Southern California environment news and trends

Costco settles environmental lawsuit with $3.6 million payout

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Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Shoppers stand near a filled cart in a Costco warehouse store.

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, retail giant Costco has agreed to pay out $3.6 million across more than two dozen California counties for alleged violations when storing, handling and disposing of hazardous materials, including pharmaceutical waste.

Occurring over a five-year period from 2007 through 2011, the allegations include Costco employees not labeling or sorting hazardous products including pool chlorine, nicotine patches and bleach. Items were thrown in the thrash or left on store shelves indefinitely, as opposed to following state laws that require such materials be properly disposed of within 90 days.

"Businesses both large and small must comply with California's environmental regulations," said Donald du Bain, the Solano County District Attorney, one of the 29 represented in the lawsuit to the Reporter. "Because of the multi-jurisdictional efforts of district attorneys' offices throughout the state in conjunction with Costco's cooperation, we are reducing the risk of harm to the environment caused by the improper storage and disposal of hazardous waste."


Lawsuit aims to protect California condors from lead bullets

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The Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council and Sierra Club have announced the combined intention to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service for failing to protect endangered California condors from toxic lead poisoning in Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest.

As reported by, Arizona’s California condors are the world’s most endangered species, and that lead poisoning — due to lead-based ammunition used by hunters entering the condor's food chain — is avoidable thanks to the availability of nontoxic alternatives. As recently as 2006, 95 percent of Arizona’s condor population suffered from lead poisoning, with an estimated 12 to 14 dying from it. Up to 70 percent of the birds have been treated for lead exposure.

“At a time when other agencies are stepping up efforts to get toxic lead out of the food chain, the U.S. Forest Service continues to bury its head in the sand, refusing to exercise its authority to protect wildlife on its lands and prevent the needless lead poisoning of Arizona’s condors,” said Jay Lininger, a conservation advocate with the Center For Biological Diversity. “If we want condors to survive, we must stop using ammunition that contaminates their food supply with toxic lead, especially on our national forests.”


CVS to pay $13.75 million for California waste violations

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Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images

It was announced this week that CVS Pharmacy Inc. will have to pay almost $14 million to settle a lawsuit claiming the chain improperly handled hazardous materials including hypodermic needles across 44 California counties. The cities of Los Angeles and San Diego were also represented in the suit.

"Safe handling of dangerous waste protects our environment in San Diego and is vital to the health of all Californians," explained San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to the Santee Patch.

With the alleged incidents occurring over the span of the seven years and across hundreds of stores, the California investigations began after CVS was found in violation of similar charges by environmental enforcement agencies in Connecticut. Long’s Drug Stores recently acquired by CVS were also cited for the errant practices.