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CVS Pharmacy to pay almost $14 million for hazardous waste disposal violations

SAN DIEGO – CVS Pharmacy has agreed to pay $13 million to settle a case accusing the company of violating California laws for the safe storage, handling and disposal of hazardous waste.

Forty-four county district attorneys as well as the city attorneys of San Diego and Los Angeles filed the civil lawsuit against CVS. The violations occurred over a seven-year period at numerous CVS pharmacies and distribution stores statewide. CVS operates 69 stores in San Diego County.

“Businesses are responsible for properly disposing of their hazardous waste so as to protect our communities,” San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. “This action is a good example of law enforcement working together to hold a violator accountable and deter future violations.”

Under the final judgment signed by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Barbara Lane, CVS must pay $13.75 million in civil penalties, costs and supplemental environmental projects furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in California. The retailer will be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future alleged violations of law.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office teamed up with the other offices as part of a joint investigation and prosecution to address statewide violations of law after Ventura County inspectors found evidence of improper storage, handling and disposal of hazardous waste and pharmaceutical waste products at local CVS stores. As a result of the investigation and prosecution, regulated waste produced by CVS stores in California must now be properly stored, handled, transported and disposed of at proper facilities with appropriate records kept documenting compliance with lawful procedures.

“Safe handling of dangerous waste protects our environment in San Diego and is vital to the health of all Californians,” said Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego County District Attorney. “Our environmental protection team did an outstanding job prosecuting this case and collaborating with other agencies to arrive at today’s multimillion-dollar judgment.”

Under the settlement, CVS will pay $462,875 in civil penalties and cost recovery to the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health and $1,044,750 in civil penalties and cost recovery to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.