Rite Aid Corp. was ordered by a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge Tuesday to pay more than $12.3 million to settle a civil lawsuit over allegations that 600 of its California stores improperly handled and disposed of hazardous waste.
Judge Linda L. Lofthus' ruling came after the district attorneys of San Joaquin, Los Angeles and Riverside counties filed a joint environmental protection lawsuit against the drugstore chain in September.
The suit alleged that Rite Aid spent six and a half years transporting dangerous materials – including pesticides, bleach, paint, aerosols and other toxic, corrosive or flammable items – and illegally throwing them out in local landfills.
Local environmental health agencies launched an investigation into the matter in 2009, eventually looping in government regulators, according to an announcement by Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey of Los Angeles County.
Rite Aid cooperated throughout the case, Lacey said. The company will now be required to keep its hazardous waste in segregated, specially labeled containers and work with state-registered haulers to discard it.
The chain will also use a computerized scanning system to help manage the dangerous materials.