District Attorney Jan Scully, along with 33 other California district and city attorneys announced that an Alameda County Superior Court judge has ordered North Carolina based Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC, to pay $18.1 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution.
Led by the District Attorneys of Alameda, San Joaquin and Solano counties, a civil action was filed claiming that more than 118 Lowe’s stores throughout the state unlawfully handled and disposed of hazardous waste over a six and a half year period. This included pesticides, aerosols, paint and colorants, solvents, adhesives, batteries, mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs, electronic waste and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials.
From 2011 to 2013, investigators from the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office Environmental Protection Division, the Sacramento County Environmental Management Department, and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, along with other investigators statewide, conducted a series of waste inspections of dumpsters belonging to Lowe’s stores. The inspections revealed that Lowe’s was routinely and systematically sending hazardous wastes to local landfills throughout California that were not permitted to receive those wastes.
The inspections also revealed that instead of recycling batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs that the company had gathered from customers at recycling kiosks, employees at some Lowe’s stores were unlawfully discarding these items directly to the trash. There are four Lowe’s stores in Sacramento County and all four stores were found to be unlawfully disposing hazardous waste.
Lowe’s has been cooperative throughout the investigation and has since adopted and implemented enhanced policies and procedures designed to eliminate the unlawful disposal of hazardous waste products in California.
Under the final judgment, Lowe’s must pay $12.85 million in civil penalties and costs. An additional $2.075 million will fund supplemental environmental projects furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in California, and Lowe’s will pay $3.175 million to fund hazardous waste minimization projects. Sacramento County Environmental Management Department will receive $102,000 and the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office will receive $90,250.