Hazardous Waste Fine Is A Day’s Profit For Wal-Mart

Wal Mart Profits

The Article: Hazardous Waste Dumped In California; Wal-Mart Admits Criminal Negligence And Is Fined $81 Million by Justin Acluff in Addicting Info.

The Text: Retail giant Wal-Mart has pleaded guilty to criminally dumping hazardous waste across California, and we don’t mean opening new stores. They pleaded guilty in San Francisco federal court to multiple misdemeanors related to dumping waste chemicals into sanitation drains as a nearly institutional practice, as reported by the AP:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will pay $81 million after pleading guilty to criminal charges the company dumped hazardous waste across California, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Wal-Mart entered the plea in San Francisco federal court to misdemeanor counts of negligently dumping pollutants from its stores into sanitation drains across the state, spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said.

Later in the article, they also go on to specify the following:

Court documents show the illegal dumping occurred in 16 California counties between 2003 and 2005. Federal prosecutors said the company didn’t train its employees on how to handle and dispose hazardous materials at its stores.

The result, prosecutors say, was that waste was tossed into local trash bins or poured into the local sewer systems. The waste also was improperly taken to one of several product return centers throughout the United Sates without proper safety documentation.

The problem, then, was a lack of employee training on how to dispose of hazardous waste — you know, the things they should probably teach them the first day on the job. Not only is it dangerous not to do it properly (a young boy was found playing in a pile of fertilizer containing the irritant ammonium sulfate), but it’s criminally negligent, as contextually shown.

It’s also irresponsible for the safety of employees. If they’re not teaching them how to keep the public safe, what are the chances the safety procedures taught elsewhere are satisfactory? They’ve shown repeatedly, such as in the cases of factory accidents in other countries, that profit will trump humanity every time.

If the fines and forced reparation are any clue in this case, the key is regulation and oversight. We have to be certain that retail stores like this aren’t doing things like this on a large scale — if it’s at one or two stores, it’s obviously not endemic. However, when you have a case like this that has involved more than 30 environmental groups and 20 prosecutors across California, it’s obvious that Wal-Mart has serious problems with negligence on a high level. As consumers, we can send a message by not shopping there, but it needs to be addressed and handled by the government as well, and preferably preemptively.


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