Tennessee-based company Dolgen California and its subsidiary corporations were ordered by a judge to pay $1.125 million as part of a civil settlement in an environmental prosecution. Dolgen California and its subsidiary corporations operate Dollar General retail stores in addition to a distribution center in California.
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin, along with 31 other California District Attorneys filed the lawsuit that alleged Dollar General stores throughout the state and their distribution center unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials over a five-year period. Those hazardous wastes and materials included automotive fluids, alkaline batteries, electronic waste, aerosol cans, expired over the counter medications, and other toxic, ignitable, and corrosive wastes. Investigators from district attorney offices and environmental regulators statewide conducted a series of undercover inspections of waste bins originating at Dollar General stores and facilities.
The inspections revealed that Dollar General stores and their distribution center had been routinely and systematically sending hazardous wastes to local landfills throughout California that were not permitted to receive those wastes. Regulators also found the documentation of employee hazardous waste training to be inaccurate or incomplete.
According to Hestrin, Dollar General was cooperative throughout the investigation and quickly responded to enhance its policies and procedures to eliminate the improper disposal of hazardous waste products in California. The judgment requires hazardous waste be labeled, packaged, and stored to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and customers.
Hazardous waste produced by California Dollar General stores through damage, spills, and returns, is now being collected by state-registered haulers, then taken to proper disposal facilities and properly documented. Under the settlement, Dolgen California must pay $500,000 in civil penalties and $375,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation. An additional $112,000 will fund supplemental environmental projects furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in California. Dolgen California will also fund hazardous waste minimization and enhanced compliance projects valued at $138,000. The retailer will be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law.
There are 50 Dollar General Stores in California with a number of them spread across the inland region. The case was handled in Riverside County by Deputy District Attorney Lauren Martineau of the DA’s Environmental Protection Team.