Walgreens will pay more than $16 million to Riverside County and 41 other California counties to settle a civil action alleging hazardous waste disposal violations and instances in which customers’ medical information was not properly protected.
After a three-year investigation, Walgreens Co. was sued in June for allegedly mishandling and improperly discarding hazardous wastes over a 6.5-year span, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, alleged that the chain dumped pesticides, bleach, paint, automotive products, solvents, pharmaceutical waste and corrosive materials in open rash bins, mixed with other garbage, instead of designated containers.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, in November 2011, investigators examined the contents of trash receptacles at four Walgreens stores in the county and discovered batteries, nail polish, electronic devices and pharmaceutical products.
There are 53 stores in the county and more than 600 across the state.
The civil suit also alleged that Walgreens had not taken appropriate steps to preserve the confidentiality of pharmacy customers’ medical information.
According to the plaintiffs, patient records were haphazardly discarded.
Of the $16.57 million settlement, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office was awarded just over $1 million in civil penalties, while the Department of Environmental Health was awarded $219,570.
Under the settlement, certified by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynee Carvill, Walgreens agreed to ensure that all potentially hazardous waste is properly isolated and contained for the safety of customers and employees.