A major supermarket has agreed to a settlement in a case regarding the mishandling hazardous waste and other materials throughout California. Whole Foods Inc. was ordered to pay $1,643,500 million by a Yolo County Superior Court judge. The funds will go to settle a civil environmental prosecution against the well-known natural foods market. There were 21 California district attorneys and city representatives involved in the case against the supermarket chain.
Of the settlement funds, over $200,000 will go to support projects to improve the environment in the area. Some funds will also go to prosecute other companies for violating environmental laws in counties that lack funds and expertise to investigate these kinds of violations. Santa Barbara County’s district attorney expressed pleasure with the settlement, saying that a fair resolution had been reached. Whole Foods, along with two other companies, had allegedly mishandled different kinds of hazardous materials over a five-year period, including batteries and hazardous cleaning chemicals.
Regulators in Yolo County also found that the supermarket chains did not provide sufficient documentation and training for employees on how to handle hazardous waste. When the investigation went statewide, they said that the issues were not isolated but were rather systematic throughout California. Moving forward, Whole Foods will need to package, label and store hazardous waste items properly in order to reduce the risk of injury to employees, customers and the environment. In addition, the stores will need to document the hazardous waste they collect and dispose of it at authorized facilities.
Companies doing business in California have a responsibility to comply with environmental regulations. An environmental law firm can help businesses to assess risks, compare practices to regulations and ensure that the company is abiding by all relevant rules. In addition, a lawyer may help businesses to resolve issues before they develop into active litigation.