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Albertsons to pay $3.3M to end waste disposal case

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Albertsons supermarket chain will pay $3.3 million to settle allegations that its California stores illegally dumped hazardous waste, including over-the-counter medication, pool chemicals and batteries.

The settlement was announced Tuesday by the various government agencies that sued the Idaho-based chain in Orange County Superior Court.

The grocery stores disposed of hazardous products in dumpsters or transported the products to third-party waste processors that were not authorized to handle the material, prosecutors said.

In addition to paying the penalties and investigation costs, Albertsons agreed to establish a computerized waste management system, conduct internal audits and train employees on handling hazardous waste. The supermarket chain must also deliver progress reports to local agencies for the next five years.

Along with curbing illegal practices, the lawsuit aimed “to level the playing field so one business does not have an unfair or illegal economic advantage over their competitors,” said Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach, whose agency filed the lawsuit with 10 others including the Los Angeles city attorney's office and district attorneys in Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties.

Albertsons LLC did not acknowledge wrongdoing but agreed to reform waste management practices at its 118 California stores.

In a statement, the chain said it complies with state and federal laws and already has procedures in place for handling hazardous waste.

“We believe in leaving this planet better than we found it, and we know that how we handle the waste that our locations can produce can contribute positively toward that goal,” Albertsons said in a statement.

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