Walgreens agreed to pay $16.57 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that more than 600 of its stores in California unlawfully handled and disposed of pesticides, paints and other hazardous materials for more than six years, it was announced Thursday.
The judgment is the result of a civil enforcement lawsuit filed in Alameda County in June by the district attorneys in Alameda, Riverside, San Joaquin, Solano, Monterrey and Yolo counties, and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's Office.
The hazardous wastes included pesticides, bleach, paint, aerosols, automotive products and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials.
The settlement also resolves allegations that Walgreens unlawfully disposed of customer records containing confidential medical information.
"The mishandling and unlawful disposal of toxic chemicals and pollutants pose a serious threat to the health and safety of our residents," Trutanich said. "Companies like Walgreens that engage in systematic and statewide violations of our laws will be held accountable."
In the summer and fall of 2011, investigators conducted a series of waste inspections of garbage bins at Walgreens stores. The inspections showed that Walgreens employees routinely and systematically put hazardous materials in bins dumped at local landfills and failed to ensure the privacy of medical information belonging to customers.
During the statewide inspections, 34 of 37 Walgreens stores were found in violation of state law.
Hazardous wastes produced by Walgreens stores in California are now being collected by state-registered haulers.
The settlement also requires Walgreens to take steps to preserve the confidentiality of their pharmacy customers' personal medical information.
Trutanich has filed similar lawsuits against CVS Pharmacy, Target and Home Depot, resulting in compliance injunctions, according to the City Attorney's Office.