Judge to Target: Stop dumping hazardous waste

lady shopping at Target in CaliforniaCompanies may be getting "greener" -- or saying they are -- but a judge in Northern California issued a preliminary injunction that prohibits Target Corp. and its employees from dumping hazardous wastes into the environment. Something prosecutors claim was routine, systematic and done over a five-year period throughout California.

According to a the San Diego District Attorney's office, officials began investigating claims in 2005:

" ... That Target and its employees were illegally disposing of hazardous waste, using unregistered haulers to transport hazardous waste, transporting hazardous waste without the required manifests, and illegally managing and disposing of universal waste such as batteries, telephones, and computer and electronic equipment.

"California law requires companies to properly store, handle, and dispose of hazardous wastes and materials to avoid harm to persons and the environment. Prosecutors contend that Target routinely ignored those laws to cut costs, and failed to develop and implement an effective program to ensure that employees properly identify defective, damaged, and leaking products containing hazardous and toxic chemicals as hazardous waste and dispose of them properly rather than throw them into company compactors. Rather than being sent to authorized disposal sites, prosecutors allege tons of hazardous wastes and contaminated materials were crushed along with discarded merchandise and garbage in Target's compactors, and sent to area landfills."

The preliminary injunction allows prosecutors to seek sanctions against Target, and its actions at the 240 stores in the state.

It sounds more like an action against Walmart than Target, often considered to be more responisible company. But Target has also come under fire making political donations unpopular with many gay rights and liberal groups, prompting a boycott of Target stores and a call by large shareholders to re-examine the company's policy in this area.

A Target spokeswoman sent Walletpop the following statement:

"Target has a comprehensive program to ensure our handling, storage, disposal and documentation of hazardous materials complies with California law, and we train our store teams regularly as part of this program. We take any legal challenge to our program seriously, and will continue to devote substantial resources in order to remain a responsible corporate steward of the environment.
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