Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Walmart To Pay Big for Clean Water Violations

Wal-Mart will pay Utah 558,000 for pollution lapses By Judy Fahys - The Salt Lake Tribune [Received May 17th, 2004]

Utah will receive part of a 3.1 million settlement being paid by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, for bungling federal storm water protections at two dozen sites in nine states. According to the U.S. Justice Department, which brought the case on behalf of the states and the Environmental Protection Agency, Wal- Mart violated the federal Clean Water Act as it planned and implemented runoff controls at and around five Utah construction sites. Under the settlement, Utah will get 558,000; the federal government, 2.5 million, and Tennessee, 62,000. The company also must spend 250,000 to help protect sensitive waterways in one state and beef up its environmental program by appointing a national storm water director as well as oversight officials at each construction site. "The point is to make sure that storm water compliance is on the radar for every single site they build," said Laura J. Lockhart, an attorney for the state. "And I'm confident that it will be." Lockhart noted the fine was unusually high by Utah standards for the offenses in this state, but she pointed out that it was the second time the Justice Department had gone after Wal-Mart over storm water violations. In 2001, the company agreed to pay 1 million in penalties. "We appreciate the government's focus on the environment and feel confident that the agreement we reached with the EPA will strengthen environmental compliance nationwide," said Gus Whitcomb, director of corporate communications for Wal-Mart, adding the company's agreement with the EPA "will strengthen environmental compliance nationwide." "We also believe that this agreement sets a new industry standard for developers and their contractors, who also make daily decisions which impact compliance," he said. "We will begin implementing new measures at our construction sites and sincerely hope to be a trendsetter in environmental compliance moving forward." Wal-Mart has 36 retail stores and three distribution centers in Utah. Environmental inspectors found violations two years ago at construction sites in Riverdale, West Valley City, Logan and two in West Jordan. Storm-water runoff pollutes waterways with sediment that kills fish, destroys habitat and blocks light critical to plant life. Storm water also disperses pesticides, chemicals, solvents and other toxic substances. Wal-Mart operates nearly 3,600 retail stores that had reported sales of 256 billion in its fiscal year ending Jan. 31. ----- The Associated Press contributed to this report.