San Diego Joins Civil Suit Against Target - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego Joins Civil Suit Against Target

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The San Diego County District Attorney's Office joined prosecutors from across the state today in a lawsuit alleging that Target Corp. routinely dumped hazardous waste into the environment.

The civil lawsuit, filed in Alameda County, claims that over an eight-year period, more than 200 Target stores throughout the state improperly handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials, including bleaches, pesticides, paints, aerosols and other flammable and corrosive

A call to Target headquarters in Minnesota was not immediately returned.

All 19 Target stores in San Diego County were involved in the hazardous waste violations, said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

"Target officials were warned years ago of the unlawful practice, but decided to illegally dump the hazardous waste anyway," Dumanis said. "They had a conscious disregard for the protection of human health and the environment and now they must be held accountable."

California law requires companies to carefully store, handle and dispose of hazardous wastes and materials. Prosecutors contend that Target systematically ignored those laws to cut costs, alleging that employees identified defective, damaged and leaking chemical products and threw them into company compactors.

Instead of being sent to authorized disposal sites, tons of hazardous wastes and contaminated materials were crushed along with discarded merchandise and garbage in massive compactors, and sent to area landfills, according to the lawsuit.

Hazardous waste was also disposed of by passing on damaged and unusable items through donations to charities, according to authorities, the lawsuit alleges.

The investigation began in 2002 with the help of numerous environmental health agencies statewide.

Twenty District Attorneys in California, the state Attorney General and the Los Angeles City Attorney are requesting that Target be required to manage its hazardous waste and hazardous materials lawfully and be liable for civil penalties that result from their violations.

"Target has shown a willful disregard for California's hazardous waste laws by dumping flammable liquids and toxic chemicals in local landfills over a period of eight years," said state Attorney General Jerry Brown. "If successful, this lawsuit would force Target to comply with state laws governing the lawful handling and disposal of toxic and corrosive waste."

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