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Walgreens to pay $16.57 million for violations

Original post made on Dec 14, 2012

Walgreen Co. has settled a lawsuit by 42 California counties for illegally dumping hazardous waste and unlawfully disposing confidential customer medical information, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 14, 2012, 9:49 AM

Comments (7)

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Posted by William
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2012 at 11:09 am

As reported, the settlement with Walgreen’s covers a 6.5 year time frame. Certainly Walgreen’s must have been discarding its waste in this irresponsible way for a much longer time. Makes one wonder if this penalty is large enough.

But this matter raises some larger questions—such as: How many other companies in California are doing the same thing? How should government go about monitoring all of the possible sources of toxic waste disposal for a state the size of California? And what more can be done to catch more of those companies (and individuals) not complying with the laws mandating proper disposal of toxic waste.

Given that this particular case involved forty-two County governments, the implication is that Walgreen’s stores throughout California were all involved in dumping their waste improperly. This implies that there was no corporate involvement in the management of the local stores, and that the store managers were all acting more-or-less as individuals, rather than under a Corporate policy about how to manage/dispose of waste. Certainly makes you wonder just how much training Walgreen’s provides its management/staff when it comes to the various laws involving waste disposal, and other obligations for operating stores in urban environments?

Moreover, the terse comment about not handling confidential customer medical records should make Walgreen’s pharmacy customers a little concerned about their records not being managed according to the law.

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Posted by cid4houses
a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2012 at 11:45 am


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Posted by Ann Oyd
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm

This is really scary when you think about the amount of hazardous waste sent to landfills over the past 6.5 years (probably more). Certainly, the Walgreen's stores caught in the act are not all of the ones doing this, which raises the amount of hazardous waste exponentially. It seems like the fine meted out is not nearly enough to ensure proper disposal of these wastes. It is expensive for any such company to get rid of hazardous waste, especially pharmaceuticals, through the proper channels; so shouldn't the fine for violating the law be much more painful and expensive than doing it right the first time?

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Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Was this investigation prompted by reports from employee whistleblowers?

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 16, 2012 at 9:43 am

Wow, "pesticides, bleach, paint, aerosols, automotive products and solvents, pharmaceutical and bio-hazardous wastes and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials." How would we fare if the district attorney and environmental regulators randomly selected and analyzed the garbage from a few Palo Alto households and extrapolated the amount of hazardous waste we send to landfills? Plus what we flush down the sewer.

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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

Musical: "Plus what we flush down the sewer." maybe what YOU send to land fill and flush.

Others have read, are aware of/respectful of, and follow rules.

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Like everybody obeys the speed limit. Environmentally the public has come a long way since the sixties, but I can't believe all the rules are common knowledge and not bent regularly.

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