Enforcement

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Settlement

(Washington, DC - May 28, 2013) Walmart has resolved civil violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Appeals Board has approved a Consent Agreement and Final Order between Walmart and EPA requiring the company to take significant actions to ensure future compliance and pay a civil penalty. In related actions, Walmart also pleaded guilty today in cases filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act and in Kansas City, Missouri to violating FIFRA.

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Overview of Company

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Walmart) was founded in 1962 with its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. Walmart is the largest retail company in the world, with over 10,000 stores in 27 countries. Walmart employs over 2 million people and in fiscal year 2013 had approximately $466 billion in sales.

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Settlement Overview

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has reached agreement with Walmart to resolve violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The violations resulted from the mismanagement of hazardous waste at Walmart stores across the country and the mismanagement of damaged pesticide containers by Walmart and its contractor, Greenleaf LLC, at the Greenleaf facility in Neosha, Missouri. To resolve the violations of RCRA and FIFRA, Walmart entered into an administrative Consent Agreement and Final Order, which includes injunctive relief obligations to prevent future violations.

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RCRA Violations

  • Walmart disposes of a significant quantity of consumer products annually as hazardous waste, when they are damaged or returned and cannot be sold, recycled, or donated.
  • Prior to 2006, Walmart did not have a program for managing hazardous wastes at its retail locations. Walmart sent all damaged and returned items to one of six Walmart reverse distribution warehouses.
  • Failure to properly manage damaged and returned items as hazardous waste resulted in the following RCRA violations at hundreds of Walmart stores:
    • Failure to make a hazardous waste determination;
    • Failure to prepare a hazardous waste manifest;
    • Offering hazardous waste to unpermitted treatment, storage, and disposal facilities; and,
    • Failure to meet hazardous waste, handling, storage, and emergency response requirements.

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FIFRA Violations

  • From 2006 to 2008, Walmart sent approximately 2 million pounds of damaged containers of pesticides and other hazardous products to a third-party management company, Greenleaf, in Neosho, Missouri.
  • Greenleaf was under contract with Walmart to recycle pesticide products, but lacked the necessary FIFRA registrations to mix, repackage, and relabel some of the pesticides. Greenleaf also did not have the capacity to handle all the products sent to it by Walmart, resulting in significant releases of hazardous substances.
  • Walmart’s shipments of damaged containers of pesticides resulted in the following violations of FIFRA:
    • Detachment and/or alteration of pesticide labels; and,
    • Distribution of misbranded pesticidal products

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Injunctive Relief

To address the mismanagement of hazardous waste at its stores, in 2006, Walmart implemented a corporate-wide hazardous waste management program. The Consent Agreement and Final Order requires Walmart to continue to implement and develop that program, including compliance with the following obligations:

  • Comply with RCRA generator requirements at all of Walmart’s approximately 4,000 stores, regardless of generator status (i.e., including conditionally exempt small quantity generator stores).
  • Do not ship any hazardous wastes to Walmart reverse distribution centers.
  • Comply with an annual monitoring plan to identify new products that are hazardous wastes when disposed of.
  • Implement operational changes to ensure compliance with RCRA. These measures address corporate structure and staffing, employee training, development of an environmental management system, maintaining a hazardous waste electronic database available to all workers to aid in the identification of hazardous wastes, and development of standard operating procedures relating to environmental compliance.

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Pollutant Impacts

Pollutant Impacts Walmart cleaned up the pesticides released to the environment at the Greenleaf facility in Neosha, Missouri, under the supervision of the state. Walmart had incidents of hazardous wastes being improperly disposed of in sewer drains and dumpsters. The remaining hazardous materials at issue in this case have been disposed of at properly permitted facilities.

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Health Effects and Environmental Benefits

Walmart’s violations presented harm to public health and the environment through potential exposure from the mishandling of hazardous wastes and pesticides.

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Civil Penalty

To resolve the RCRA and FIFRA violations, Walmart will pay a $7.6 million civil penalty to the United States.

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For more information, contacts:

Kenneth C. Schefski
Waste and Chemical Enforcement Division
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW (MC 2249A)
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-8213
Kenneth C. Schefski (schefski.kenneth@epa.gov)

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