The Justice Department announced Tuesday that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) pleaded guilty to civil criminal charges for illegally disposing of hazardous waste.
America's largest retail company has agreed to pay $81.6 million in a series of fines and payments in its settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, but the EPA will only receive $7.6 million of the total. Wal-Mart will pay $74 million in state fines and to state agencies in California and Missouri for its criminal violations.
The EPA's lawsuit against the retail giant says company employees violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and also the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
In reported incidents, employees mixed regulated pesticides together and offered them for sale to customers "without the required registration, ingredients, or use information, which constitutes a violation of FIFRA."
Wal-Mart says it established a comprehensive environmental compliance program in 2010 and since that time has reduced hazardous waste by 30 percent. However, the EPA says that until January 2006, Wal-Mart did not have a hazardous waste program, and "failed to train employees in its 4,000 stores on proper waste management and disposal practices."
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An additional $28 million in earlier settlements on cases will bring the grand total to $110 million. This includes $3.4 million that the company has already spent to dispose of hazardous material from partner recycler Greenleaf LLC's facility in Neosho, Mo. Also, $9 million will be paid to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Northern and Southern California branches for environmental projects, according to Courthouse News Service.