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Walmart to pay $82m in hazardous waste cases

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart has pleaded guilty to charges that it inappropriately transported and disposed of common consumer products, such as bleach and fertilizer, while reiterating that the misdemeanor violations of certain environmental laws occurred years ago and had no specific environment impact.

Walmart entered its plea with the U.S. Attorneys' Offices in the Northern and Central Districts of California, as well as the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri, and has signed an administrative resolution with the Environmental Protection Agency to settle compliance issues.

Furthermore, Walmart has agreed to pay an aggregate amount of approximately $82 million: $60 million for misdemeanor Clean Water Act Violations in California ($40 million fine and $20 million community service payments); $14 million in Missouri for a misdemeanor Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act violation ($11 million fine and $3 million in community service payments) and a $7.6 million civil penalty to EPA to settle charges for FIFRA ($1.5 million) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act violations ($6.1 million).

The payments will not impact the company's results of operations for the second quarter of 2013 and will not be material to the company's financial position. Walmart has since designed and implemented comprehensive environmental programs that remain in place today.

This latest resolution follows previous civil settlements Walmart entered into with the State of California in 2010 and the State of Missouri in 2012 that, according to the company, “addressed the same facts the federal government in this case raised and which Walmart has already remedied.”

"Walmart has a comprehensive and industry-leading hazardous waste program," said Phyllis Harris, SVP and chief compliance officer, Walmart US. "The program was built around training, policies and procedures on how to safely handle consumer products that become hazardous waste, and we continue to run the same program in every store and club that was deployed years ago. We are pleased that this resolves all of these issues raised by the government."

Within the administrative resolution, the EPA noted that in 2006 Walmart began to implement an enhanced environmental management program in all of its retail facilities, which seeks to properly manage hazardous waste and, in many respects, goes beyond compliance with environmental laws.

The EPA also acknowledged in the administrative resolution that Walmart has already taken steps to improve its environmental compliance program to address the issues and promote compliance with all applicable environmental laws related to the company's hazardous waste management. Walmart and the EPA have also entered into a separate agreement which provides that the company will not be disqualified from participating in federal government programs.

The company created nearly 50 dedicated environment compliance staff, with elevated management authority. It also developed and implemented more than 100 environmental compliance standard operating procedures for its stores and clubs. The company also now clearly identifies consumer products sold in stores and clubs that constitute hazardous waste if discarded, and provides this information to store and club employees through handheld terminals and shelf labels. It has also implemented a hazardous waste management system so that store and club employees properly dispose of regulated items that become waste at the stores and clubs. It provides enhanced environmental compliance training to employees in stores and clubs across the country.

Walmart has reduced hazardous waste through its environmental sustainability measures by more than 30% since 2010.

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