Wal-Mart is an American multinational retail corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the world’s third largest public corporation, according to the Fortune Global 500 list in 2012, the biggest private employer in the world with over two million employees, and is the largest retailer in the world. Being big does not mean you do no wrong. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pleaded guilty this week in cases filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally handling and disposing of hazardous materials at its retail stores across the United States. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company also pleaded guilty today in Kansas City, Mo., to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by failing to properly handle pesticides that had been returned by customers at its stores across the country.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has reached agreement with Wal-Mart to resolve violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The violations resulted from the mismanagement of hazardous waste at Walmart stores across the country and the mismanagement of damaged pesticide containers by Wal-Mart and its contractor, Greenleaf LLC, at the Greenleaf facility in Neosha, Missouri. To resolve the violations of RCRA and FIFRA, Walmart entered into an administrative Consent Agreement and Final Order, which includes injunctive relief obligations to prevent future violations.
To address the mismanagement of hazardous waste at its stores, in 2006, Wal-Mart implemented a corporate-wide hazardous waste management program. The Consent Agreement and Final Order requires Walmart to continue to implement and develop that program, including compliance with the following obligations:
Comply with RCRA generator requirements at all of Walmart’s approximately 4,000 stores, regardless of generator status (i.e., including conditionally exempt small quantity generator stores).
Do not ship any hazardous wastes to Walmart reverse distribution centers.
Comply with an annual monitoring plan to identify new products that are hazardous wastes when disposed of.
Implement operational changes to ensure compliance with RCRA. These measures address corporate structure and staffing, employee training, development of an environmental management system, maintaining a hazardous waste electronic database available to all workers to aid in the identification of hazardous wastes, and development of standard operating procedures relating to environmental compliance.
Wal-Mart cleaned up the pesticides released to the environment at the Greenleaf facility in Neosha, Missouri, under the supervision of the state. Walmart had incidents of hazardous wastes being improperly disposed of in sewer drains and dumpsters. The remaining hazardous materials at issue in this case have been disposed of at properly permitted facilities.
For further information see EPA and Wal-Mart.
Article by Andy Soos, appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.