A judge has ordered a popular chain of pharmacies to pay millions for routinely and unlawfully dumping hazardous materials and customer records.
Walgreens must pay $16.57 million in civil penalties and costs as part of a settlement in a lawsuit filed by Alameda County but supported by District Attorneys in San Diego, Riverside, San Joaquin, Solano, Monterey and Yolo Counties along with the City Attorney of Los Angeles.
The Illinois-based pharmacy chain violated disposal laws by dumping items like pharmaceutical waste, aerosols, paint, solvents and other toxic materials in dumpsters.
Images of some of the items were taken during a waste audit conducted at the Walgreens on University Avenue in San Diego in October 2011.
During the statewide inspections, 34 of 37 Walgreens stores were in violation of state law, including three retailers investigated in San Diego County officials said.
The lawsuit also contends the chain improperly disposed of customers’ personal medical information without preserving confidentiality.
As a result of the settlement, Walgreens stores will store hazardous waste in labeled containers to be collected by state-registered haulers or be taken to proper disposal facilities.
“Protecting consumer information and safely handling dangerous waste is paramount for all businesses in California,” San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis was quoted in a prepared news release. “Our environmental protection team did an outstanding job prosecuting this case and collaborating with other agencies to arrive at today’s multi-million dollar judgment.”
Under the settlement, Walgreen Co. will pay $223,000 to San Diego County Department of Environmental Health and $507,750 to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.