SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – District Attorney Mike Ramos, together with 34 other California District Attorneys and 2 City Attorneys, announced today that San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Bryan F. Foster has ordered Ohio-based company Big Lots Stores, Inc., and its subsidiary corporations, that own and operate Big Lots stores and a distribution center in Rancho Cucamonga, to pay $3,507,500 in civil penalties, costs, and supplemental environmental projects.
The judgment is the result of an investigation into Big Lots Stores’ unlawful disposal of hazardous waste at its distribution center and into trash bins at the 206 stores in California.
According to Deputy District Attorney Dan Lough, who was assigned to the case, Big Lots failed to properly handle hazardous waste at both the stores and distribution center.
“The hazardous waste included ignitable and corrosive liquids, toxic materials, batteries, electronic devices and other e-waste,” Deputy DA Lough said. “In some instances, the hazardous waste was the result of overstock or expired merchandise. In others, it was the result of spills, damaged containers, and customer returns.”
Instead of being transported to authorized hazardous waste facilities, the waste was deposited into the trash and illegally transported to local landfills not permitted to receive the waste.
"Companies that deal with hazardous waste are expected to fully comply with the rules and regulations that are meant to protect our citizens and the environment,” District Attorney Mike Ramos said. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit, we were able to once again hold another corporation accountable for their negligent actions and bring them into compliance with California’s environmental laws.”
Prosecutors alerted Big Lots to the violations, and the company was cooperative throughout the continued investigation. Under the settlement, Big Lots must pay $2,017,500 in civil penalties and $336,250 to reimburse the costs of investigation.
An additional $350,000 will fund supplemental environmental projects furthering environmental enforcement and consumer protection in California. Big Lots will also fund hazardous waste minimization and enhanced compliance projects valued at $803,750, and has adopted and implemented new policies and procedures and training programs designed to properly manage and dispose of hazardous waste.
The hazardous waste is now being collected by state-registered haulers who transport it to authorized disposal facilities, and disposal is now being properly documented.