Crime, Fire + Courts

Settlement reached in hazardous waste lawsuit

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced Thursday that his office, along with 34 other district attorney’s offices in California, has reached a settlement of more than $2.5 million in a civil law enforcement action against Save Mart Supermarkets.

Prosecutors filed the court action in San Joaquin County Superior Court for violations of hazardous waste control laws. Save Mart Supermarkets, headquartered in Modesto, operates stores throughout the state including Food Maxx, Maxx Value Foods and Lucky brands. Save Mart currently operates one store in Davis.

The complaint alleged that Save Mart violated California laws regarding the safe storage, handling and disposal of hazardous waste generated from spills and customer returns of hazardous products. In settling the case, Save Mart worked collaboratively with prosecutors and investigating agencies to address the specific violations.

The violations alleged occurred over a period of several years at Save Mart stores and distribution centers, which include Albertson’s Stores acquired by Save Mart and converted to either the Lucky or the Save Mart brand.

Under the final judgment, Save Mart must pay $2.55 million in civil penalties, costs and expenses for supplemental environmental projects furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in the state. Also, Save Mart will be bound under the terms of an injunction prohibiting similar violations of law in the future.

The settlement awarded $14,000 to the Yolo County District Attorney’s office for aquatic toxicity studies and $225,000 to fund specific training on hazardous waste regulations and laws. These trainings will take place in seven California counties, including Yolo.

“Environmental crimes are unusual in that they impact every Yolo County citizen,” Reisig said. “Illegal disposal of hazardous wastes affects citizens by compromising a finite amount of resources. There is only one landfill in Yolo County and we all share it.”

Reisig lauded the team effort of law-enforcement agencies involved in bringing the civil suit, as well as “Save Mart’s efforts to work cooperatively with us to rectify this problem.”

Special to The Enterprise

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