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Grocery chain settles hazardous materials case for $10 million 


Fines for six county stores total $225,900

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow announced that Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne S. Carvill has approved a settlement with Pleasanton-based Safeway, Inc., the owner of local Von’s grocery stores, which includes almost ten million dollars of civil penalties, supplemental environmental projects, costs and enhanced environmental compliance efforts.

The case, involving 42 District Attorneys and 2 City Attorneys, alleged that more than 500 Safeway-owned stores and distribution centers violated various hazardous waste and hazardous materials laws. These stores include Vons, Pavilions and Pak ‘n Save stores also operated by Safeway. The allegations included violations of California’s Jaws for the safe storage, handling and disposal of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste.

This settlement is the culmination of a civil enforcement investigation into Safeway’s disposal of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste in local area landfills not equipped or authorized to receive such waste. Upon being notified by prosecutors of the widespread issues, Safeway worked cooperatively to remedy the issue, enhance its environmental compliance program and train its employees to properly handle such wastes.

Under the settlement, the corporation must pay $9.87 million in civil penalties, costs and supplemental environmental projects. Safeway must also continue its First Assistant Store Manager Program designed to address environmental compliance at the store level and conduct annual store audits.

There are six Vons stores in San Luis Obispo County covered by this settlement, as well as one former Vons location in Morro Bay that was closed in 2007. Under the final judgment, Safeway will pay San Luis Obispo County’s Department of Environmental Health Services and the District Attorney’s Office $25,900.00. Safeway will also pay $200,000 to help fund state-wide trainings in San Luis Obispo County for environmental enforcement and hazardous materials case investigations.

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