Safeway Paying $10 Million in Settlement for Hazardous Waste

Safeway Inc agreed to pay out close to $10 million as settlement for allegations that its chain of grocery stores improperly disposed of different forms of hazardous waste as well as customers’ medical data in California.

This agreement comes following an investigation that found the company, based in Pleasanton, California, had routinely as well as systematically sent hazardous materials like batteries and medicine to landfills near the stores, said the district attorney’s office of Alameda County on Monday.

The company also failed to protect pharmacy customers’ records that were confidential.

Over 500 Safeway, Pavilions, Pak ‘n Save and Vons stores as well as distribution centers allegedly engaged in the improper waste disposal for a period of more than 7 ½ years, according to a lawsuit filed in Alameda, Ventura, Orange and other counties in California. The lawsuit was civil not criminal.

Safeway released a statement where it characterized itself as one of many retailers to agree to handle everyday items that are not for sale any longer as hazardous wastes.

Examples of the products on that list, which are considered a potentially hazardous risk by the state of California include detergents, hair dye, eye mascara, aerosol sprays and antibacterial soaps.

The statement added that the company has procedures as well as policies in place to ensure proper identification, segregation and disposal of the hazardous materials for quite some time.

The programs, said the statement, have been enhanced and added with the addition of supplementary training to make sure that strict adherence to all laws and policies are kept.

Prosecutors across the state have cracked down over the past few years on the environmental violations by the big-box retailers.

Target Corp, in 2011, agreed to a payment of $22.5 million as settlement for a government investigation over a period of years for alleged dumping of different hazardous waste.

The following year, Walmart announced it was paying $27.6 million as settlement for charges it improperly handled as well as disposed of different hazardous materials.

Under the new settlement, Safeway does not admit to any wrongdoing, but will pay over $9.87 million in assorted civil penalties, costs as well as supplement projects for the environment.