Bay City News Service—An Alameda County Superior Court judge Thursday ordered the Illinois-based pharmacy company Walgreen Co. pay $16.57 million as part of a settlement for apparent environmental violations.
Together, 42 state district attorney offices and two city attorney offices filed a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company in June in Alameda County for illegal waste disposal and improper handling of confidential medical information.
The lawsuit was led by dozens of state and city offices including the district attorney's offices of Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Monterey and San Francisco counties.
The lawsuit claimed more than 600 Walgreens stores statewide unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous waste and materials for more than six years. Some of the waste allegedly dumped was pesticides, bleach, paint, aerosols, automotive products and other hazardous waste, the suit claimed.
The case originated from an investigation by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and local environmental health agencies.
The settlement also resolves allegations that Walgreens unlawfully disposed of customer records containing confidential medical information risking confidentiality.
Under the final judgment of Judge Wynne Carvill, the company must pay $16.57 million in civil penalties and costs.
Under the settlement, each county and party in the lawsuit will receive various amounts in damages. For instance, in Alameda County where 34 stores were found in violation of state environmental law, the district attorney's office will receive about $1.12 million and nearly $140,000 in penalties to county environmental regulators.
Because of the judgment, Walgreens must have more stringent waste disposal procedures and regulation. Additionally, the company is required to take proper steps to ensure confidentially of pharmacy customer information.
Walgreen Co. representatives were not immediately available to provide comment on the settlement.
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