Three years ago, the Orange County District Attorney announced a massive $27.6 million settlement with Wal-Mart, Inc., one of the largest payouts involving environmental pollution in state history. In Dec., 2010, the Weekly interviewed a whistleblower in the case, former manager Kathrine Shimaji, who complained that the illegal dumping of pesticides and other hazardous chemicals had been carried out at a Foothill Ranch store in 2005 at the instruction of other managers, and that higher-ups had ignored her complaints and covered up evidence of the crimes.
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None of those officials, Shimaji pointed out, were punished, although a few low-level workers who were following orders lost their jobs, and in the settlement with the DA's office, the company did not admit any wrongdoing.
It has now, though.
Yesterday, the company pleaded guilty in San Francisco to illegal dumping in California between 2006 and 2008, as well as in Missouri. This time, Wal-Mart is paying out $81 million. According to NBC News, Walmart has officially taken responsibility for the fact that it allowed employees to dump hazardous materials--usually in the form of damaged bags of fertilizer that could not be stocked as merchandise--in the trash or in sewer drains.
Wal-Mart claims it has since retrained employees on how to properly dispose of hazardous waste and also has armed them with scanners that allow them to automatically detect any such materials. It has also promised to fund environmental projects in neighborhoods affected by the company's past misconduct.