California district attorneys file legal motion aimed at stopping Walgreen from allegedly improperly disposing of hazardous waste; lawsuit claims more than 600 Walgreen stores in state have improperly handled, disposed of waste over 6.5-year period
August 7, 2012
(Alameda County District Attorney)
– Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley today announced that her office has joined with 35 other California District Attorneys and two City Attorneys in filing a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in a civil lawsuit against Walgreen Co., to stop the company from routinely and systematically dumping hazardous wastes into the environment.
The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court on June 18th, claims that more than 600 Walgreen’s stores throughout the state improperly handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials over a six and a half-year period, including pesticides, bleach, paint, aerosols, automotive products and solvents, pharmaceutical and biohazardous wastes and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials. The lawsuit also alleges that Walgreen’s unlawfully disposed of customer records containing confidential medical information without preserving the confidentiality of the information therein. All 32 Walgreen’s stores in Alameda County were involved in the hazardous waste violations.
“California hazardous waste law requires companies carefully store, handle, and dispose of hazardous wastes and materials,” states DA O’Malley. “My Office, along with my fellow DA and City Attorney Offices, is committed to ensuring that all businesses comply with these laws.”
Prosecutors contend that Walgreen’s systematically ignored those laws to cut costs, alleging that employees improperly stored, handled and disposed of hazardous waste and pharmaceutical waste products into company trash bins. Instead of being sent to authorized disposal sites, hazardous wastes and contaminated materials were unlawfully sent to area landfills.
Companies in possession of medical information are required by law to protect the privacy of their customers’ confidential medical information. The lawsuit alleges that Walgreen's failed to take proper steps to preserve the confidentiality of their pharmacy customers.
The investigation began in 2009 with the help of inspectors from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Environmental Protection Division, local city and county environmental regulators and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.
The District Attorneys and City Attorneys are requesting that Walgreen’s be required to manage its hazardous waste and hazardous materials lawfully, maintain the confidentiality of medical information as required by law, and be liable for civil penalties that result from their violations.