Lowe's to pay $18M to settle environmental violations case

SAN DIEGO - Lowe's will pay $18.1 million to settle a civil enforcement action, claiming 118 of its California stores unlawfully handled and disposed of hazardous wastes  over a six and a half year period, authorities in San Diego announced Wednesday.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said her office's Environmental Protection Unit worked with 31 other state district attorneys and two city attorneys to resolve the environmental violations against North Carolina-based Lowe's Home Centers LLC.

Between 2011 and 2013, investigators from the Alameda and San Diego County District Attorney's offices and from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, along with regulators from San Diego's Department of Environmental Health and others statewide, conducted a series of waste inspections of Lowe's Dumpsters.

The inspections revealed that Lowe's was routinely and systematically sending hazardous waste to local landfills in California that were not permitted to receive it.

The inspections showed that at some Lowe's stores, instead of recycling batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs that the company had gathered from customers at store recycling kiosks as part of a program to responsibly reduce waste, employees were  unlawfully discarding the items directly into the trash.

Lowe's has eight stores in San Diego County, all of which were found to be unlawfully disposing hazardous waste, including paint, batteries and aerosol cans.

Under the final judgment, Lowe's must pay $12.85 million in civil penalties and costs. An additional $2.1 million will fund supplemental environmental projects furthering environmental protection and enforcement in California, and Lowe's will fund hazardous waste minimization projects of $3.2 million.

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