Walgreens has been ordered to pay $16.5 million in damages, to settle a lawsuit that accused the company of illegally dumping pharmaceutical and biohazardous waste in California.
The suit was filed by district attorneys who represented more than half of the counties in the state. It claimed employees of the drugstore chain illegally dumped the drugs and waste into regular trash bins, instead of sending it to authorized disposal sites, the Contra Costa Times reports.
According to Walgreens, the company admits no wrongdoing, and settled the case to avoid the time and expense of lengthy litigation. “All hazardous materials are shipped by licensed environmental haulers to a hazardous waste disposal facility, where they are incinerated,” spokesman Jim Graham said. “We are continuing to strengthen our programs to ensure that these procedures are properly followed.”
Walgreens will pay $16.5 million in penalties and costs, and will fund environmental projects to advance consumer protection and environmental enforcement in the state, the article notes. The company will also create new procedures for employees, including having hazardous waste stored in separate, labeled containers.