​For release on June 4, 2012

Tina Nunes-Ober, Deputy District Attorney
Environmental Protection Unit
(408) 792-2598   COSTCO TO PAY $3.6 MILLION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL VIOLATIONS   In the latest settlement with a big box store chain, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and prosecutors’ offices throughout the state have resolved a civil law enforcement action with Costco for $3.6 million in penalties for violating state hazardous waste laws.   Filed in Alameda County, the settlement resolves allegations that Costco Wholesale Corp. violated laws ensuring the safe storage, handling and disposal of cleaning products, pharmaceutical products and other hazardous waste.   Santa Clara County is home to seven Costco stores and will receive $29,750 in civil penalties and be reimbursed $750 for the costs of the prosecution.   “It’s very important that prosecutors work together on environmental investigations and prosecutions. Environmental destruction does not stop at one county's border,’’ said Prosecutor Tina Nunes-Ober.  “We thereby create a cleaner, safer environment for all Californians and a level playing field for all companies and individuals doing business in our state.”   CVS was the target of a similar investigation and settled with the state in April for $13.75 million. The violations were also similar. First investigated in San Joaquin County, the statewide probe concluded that Costco was improperly disposing of aerosol cans, used batteries and electronic devices. The wholesale stores were also unlawfully disposing their own in-house cleaning supplies and failed to properly train their employees on how to dispose of hazardous wastes in a safe way.    The violations occurred over five years at numerous Costco stores and distribution centers across the state.  Costco officials cooperated with prosecutors and quickly came into compliance. Costco will be bound by the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar violations in the future.    The settlement will also fund environmental projects for enforcement and prosecution of environmental cases statewide.    ###

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