Retail giant Target has been ordered to pay $7.4 million in a statewide settlement related to the improper handling and disposal of hazardous waste, the Ventura County district attorney’s office announced earlier this month.
Between 2012 and 2016, Target stores in California improperly dumped electronics, batteries, aerosol cans and fluorescent light bulbs in landfills in violation of state law and the terms of a 2011 stipulated decision that came after previous environmental violations.
Target also disposed of syringes, medications and paperwork containing confidential medical information of its customers, according to the complaint.
Under an agreement reached with the California attorney general’s office and 24 other agencies— including VCDA—the Minnesota-based national retailer is required to pay $3.2 million in civil penalties and $900,000 in fees and costs. The district attorney’s office will receive about $320,000.
Target was also ordered to pay $300,000 for future environmental projects and spend at least $3 million to conduct three annual inspections and audits of 12 facilities, the results of which must be shared with the state attorney general and local prosecutors.
Ventura County is home to eight Target stores. There’s also one in Westlake Village.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Mitchell Disney has been involved in the litigation against Target since 2008. The most recent violations were discovered by inspectors with the county’s environmental health department while checking the retail giant’s waste bins.
“They showed there were some deviations from the law in terms of what they were disposing and, in particular, I believe it was a fair amount of electronic waste, including . . . products that have circuit boards, which typically have lead and other heavy metals in them,” Disney told The Acorn.
According to California law, this kind of waste has to be handled by a licensed hauler and has to go to a Class 1 landfill or a proper disposal site.
“It can’t just go to a regular (landfill),” Disney said.
The county believes both the Simi Valley Landfill and the Toland Road Sanitary Landfill outside Santa Paula may have received illegal waste from Target.
“The landfills do their best. They have random checkers in place and they find stuff every day, but there’s always slippage,” Disney said.
The prosecutor said he doesn’t feel Target intentionally ran afoul of the law.
“The laws are fairly complex, and the retailers sell a wide variety of potentially hazardous items . . . and so they have challenges in terms of complying with a pretty complex set of laws. It’s expensive,” Disney said.