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Walgreens Accused Of Illegal Activity; All Riverside County Locations Named

The company is accused of dumping hazardous waste and unlawfully destroying customer medical records.

Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach announced this week that his office is going after Walgreens for “routinely and systematically dumping hazardous wastes into the environment” and unlawfully destroying customers’ medical information.

Zellerbach has joined 35 other DA’s Offices and two City Attorney’s Offices throughout the state in the filing of a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in a civil lawsuit against Walgreen Co.

The injunction was filed in Alameda County on Aug. 7 and follows a lawsuit filed June 18 -- also in Alameda County Superior Court -- alleging that more than 600 Walgreens stores statewide improperly handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials over a 6½-year period.

“Those included pesticides, bleach, paint, aerosols, automotive products and solvents, pharmaceutical and bio hazardous wastes, and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials,” Zellerbach’s office contends.

“At the time of the lawsuit, all 53 Walgreens stores and one distribution center in Riverside County were involved in the hazardous waste violations. In November 2011, Riverside County DA’s investigators examined the trash disposal of four Walgreens stores in Riverside County and found that the violations were continuing. At that time, items such as pharmaceutical waste, nail polish, batteries and electronic devices were found to have been improperly disposed of,” according to Zellerbach’s office.

There are several Walgreens locations in Southwest Riverside County, including five in Murrieta, two in Lake Elsinore and one in Menifee.

The lawsuit contends that Walgreen Co. systematically ignored laws to cut costs, alleging that employees improperly stored, handled and disposed of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste products into company trash bins. These waste materials were unlawfully sent to area landfills instead of being sent to authorized disposal sites.

The lawsuit also alleges that Walgreens stores unlawfully disposed of customer records containing confidential medical information.

Companies in possession of medical information are required by law to protect the privacy of their customers’ confidential medical information, Zellerbach’s office stated, and the lawsuit alleges that Walgreen Co. failed to take the proper steps to preserve and protect the confidentiality of their pharmacy customers.

“All the district attorneys and city attorneys joined in the legal action are requesting that Walgreen Co. be required to lawfully manage its hazardous waste and hazardous materials, maintain the confidentiality of medical information as required by law, and be liable for civil penalties that result from their violations,” Zellerbach’s office stated.

According to Zellerbach’s office, the investigation began in 2009 and involved local, city and county environmental regulators as well as the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Diana August 09, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Didn't they just get Costco for the same thing not to long ago, looks to me like the EPA is trying to get money from anyone for improper disposal if they are stooping so low as dumpster diving, just kidding. Anyone that has a business large or small can expect this kind of action, the State is broke and will go out and seek money from anyone, anywhere in the form of violations that creates revenue for them.
MT August 09, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Don't break the law and you won't get fined. I wish everyone would drive safe; just so we wouldn't have to fund them this way. Called preventable funding.
Vincent Campellone August 09, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Rotten veggies, fruits and meats, produce and milk products, plus price manipulation! Its just unbelivable, just, what a company gets away with, that is destroying the health of af American consumers! Most the these products are coming from third world countries, that pay slave wasges to their workers. Let alone life expectanty or durability! Something is drastically wrong, with Washington's free trade agreements. And not just the destribution end of the chain!
Diana August 09, 2012 at 09:56 PM
@Vince, you can thank your Government for the prices, and rotten products they are the one that controls what will and will not be for the consumer to eat. The FDA, food and drug administration, they really suck.
Yvonne August 09, 2012 at 10:55 PM
That's when you grow your own.. it helps a little.
AFR August 18, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Just started paying attention to illegal activities since 2009? Right around the economical downturn. I'm sure it's just a coincidence. I'm sure our state and federal agencies aren't doing their jobs now because they need the money paid in fines and violations.
BobMn August 19, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Government will do whatever it can to keep it's cushion jobs. Heaven forbid if there is a pay freeze or restructure to increase efficiency and save dollars...

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