Lowe's Home Centers has agreed to pay $18.1 million as part of a settlement following a joint investigation by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and district and city attorneys throughout the state.
The judgment is the result of civil enforcement action claiming that more than 118 Lowe’s stores throughout the state unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous waste and materials over a six and a half year period. The material included pesticides, aerosols, paint and colorants solvents, adhesives, batteries, mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs, electronic waste and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials.
"Investigators discovered that Lowe's was throwing hazardous waste out to our landfills and in some cases, that hazardous waste was batteries and fluorescent light bulbs that customers had brought to stores and placed in recycle bins," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) which represents DTSC investigators. "Investigators in DTSC's Office of Criminal Investigations work to protect our environmental health on a daily basis. I wish there were more of them to scout out those who give no thought to just dumping hazardous waste anywhere and in turn, give no thought to the health of millions of Californians."
Between 2011 and 2013, investigators conducted a series of waste inspections of dumpsters belonging to Lowe’s stores. The inspections revealed that Lowe’s was routinely and systematically sending hazardous waste to local landfills throughout California that were not permitted to receive that waste.
Under the final judgment, Lowe’s must pay $12.85 million in civil penalties and costs. An additional $2.1 million will fund supplemental environmental projects furthering environmental protection and enforcement in California, and Lowe’s will fund hazardous waste minimization projects of $3.2 million.