(CNS) – The city attorney of Los Angeles and nearly 40 other prosecutors statewide are suing the Walgreens drug store chain from allegedly dumping hazardous wastes into the environment. The lawsuit maintains that more than 600 Walgreen Co. stores throughout the state improperly handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials over a 6 1/2-year period.
A company representative could not be immediately reached for comment on the suit filed June 18 in Alameda County Superior Court.
The wastes allegedly include pesticides, bleach, paint, aerosols, automotive products and solvents, pharmaceutical and biohazardous wastes and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials.
“The mishandling and unlawful disposal of toxic chemicals and pollutants pose a serious threat to the health and safety of our residents,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. “This wasn’t an isolated incident. Walgreen’s actions were systematic and statewide, and the company must be held accountable.”
California hazardous waste law requires companies to carefully store, handle and dispose of hazardous wastes and materials. The prosecutors maintain that Walgreen Co. ignored environmental laws to cut costs and that employees improperly stored, handled and disposed of hazardous waste and pharmaceutical waste products.
Rather than separating the hazardous waste and properly disposing it at proper sites, Walgreen Co. allegedly directed it to area landfills, where it seeped into and contaminated the soil and groundwater, according to the lawsuit.
In a separate allegation, the prosecutors allege Walgreen Co. unlawfully disposed of customer records containing confidential medical information without preserving the confidentiality of the information. Companies in possession of medical information are required by law to protect the privacy of their customers’ confidential medial information.
The prosecutors allege that Walgreen Co. failed to take proper steps to preserve the confidentiality of its pharmacy customers.
The prosecutors are requesting that Walgreen 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 the alleged violations.