Walmart Will Pay $81 Million In Toxic Dumping Case

Walmart pleaded guilty to dumping toxic chemicals into sewers throughout California during the mid-2000s. As a result, the company will be forced to pay a $81.6 million fine.

The retail giant was accused to dumping fertilizer, pesticides, and other hazardous material into the state’s sewage system. Many of the chemicals the company dumped were products pulled from stores shelves in California or Missouri for one reason or another.

According to The Associated Press, Walmart pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of violating the Clean Water Act and another environmental law regulating pesticides. The $81.6 million the company paid in the toxic dumping case will also go towards settling allegations by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said that disposing of the products in this manner gave them an “unfair economic advantage over other companies.”

“Today, Walmart acknowledged responsibility for violations of federal laws and will pay significant fines and penalties, which will, in part, fund important environmental projects in the communities impacted by the violations and help prevent future harm to the environment,” Moreno explained in a recent statement.

A lengthy eight-year investigation into the allegations began when a San Diego health worker witnessed a Walmart employee dumping chemical down a drain. More eyebrows were raised when a child was discovered playing in a mound of fertilizer in one of the company’s garden centers.

The Atlantic Wire reports that $81 million really isn’t much money to the nation’s largest retailer. In fact, it will likely make the money back in a very short period of time.

According to the Wire, the company will make enough money to settle the fine within 25.4 hours of operation. In short, $81 million is a drop in the proverbial bucket when you’re making billions of dollars every year.

A Walmart spokeswoman said in a statement that the company was “obviously happy that this is the final resolution.” She added that the retailer had taken the necessary steps to ensure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.

What do you think about Walmart paying $81 million for dumping toxic chemicals into California sewers? Do you think the punishment fits the crime?

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]