LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – CVS/pharmacy has settled a civil suit with agencies in 45 counties and two cities – Los Angeles and San Diego – over allegations that it failed to properly dispose of hazardous materials.
The company will pay a total of $13.75 million in the suit, with $2 million going toward environmental enforcement and prosecution training, and environmental projects, under the terms of the final judgement signed by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Barbara Lane.
In addition, CVS will be bound by a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future alleged violations of of Business and Professions Code and Health and Safety Code.
Lake County District Attorney Don Anderson confirmed to Lake County News that his office was one of several dozen district attorneys’ offices across the state that took part in the suit, filed by Ventura County District Attorney Gregory Totten.
The suit alleged that over a seven-year period hundreds of California CVS stores, pharmacies and distribution stores – including Long’s Drug Stores that CVS acquired and converted to its brand – violated California laws for handling, storage and disposal of sharps, pharmaceuticals and pharmacy waste.
In addition, CVS is alleged to have failed to properly handle photo waste that contained silver from its film processing labs, hazardous waste generated from spills and customer returns of hazardous products, according to the suit.
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch’s office reported that California’s investigation into CVS’ operations followed an investigation by environmental enforcement officials with the state of Connecticut.
Ravitch reported that Ventura County Environmental Health Division inspectors subsequently conducted a compliance review at CVS stores in that county and found evidence of improper storage, handling and disposal of hazardous waste and pharmaceutical waste products.
That led to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office teaming up with California Department of Toxic Substances Control and other district attorney investigators from around the state to work on the case, according to Ravitch.
Lake County has only one CVS, located on 11th Street in Lakeport. That store converted from a Longs Drug Store to CVS following CVS’ acquisition.
The Lake County District Attorney’s Office will receive $10,000 in civil penalties for violations of Business and Professions Code, and Lake County Environmental Health will receive $5,000 in civil penalties for violations of Health and Safety Code, according to case documents. The agencies also will receive an additional $1,250 to cover their costs in the case.
Sonoma County will receive $84,625; Glenn, $16,250; Mendocino, $21,250; Napa, $32,000; and Yolo, $370,375.
Ventura County will receive the most from the settlement, $1,573,250.
In addition to paying civil penalties to counties’ district attorneys’ offices, environmental health departments and other agencies, CVS has agreed to pay $625,000 to the Craig Thompson Environmental Protection Prosecution Fund; $600,000 to the CUPA Forum Environmental Protection Trust Fund; $400,000 to fund scholarships and attendance for the annual CUPA Conference; $125,000 to the California District Attorneys Association Environmental Project to provide environmental training; $125,000 to the California District Attorneys Association Environmental Circuit Prosecutor Project to provide training consistent with the Environmental Circuit Prosecutor Project; and $125,000 to the Western States Project for training.
The total civil penalties and cost reimbursements for the counties and cities represented in the suit are listed below.
Alameda County – $351,000
Amador County – $16,250
Butte County – $46,750
Calaveras County – $21,250
Contra Costa County – $95,500
El Dorado County – $52,750
Fresno County – $217,000
Glenn County – $16,250
Humboldt County – $61,125
Kern County – $67,500
Kings County – $21,250
Lake County – $16,250
Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office – $47,500
Los Angeles County – $1,452,500
Madera County – $41,750
Marin County – $36,500
Mendocino County – $21,250
Merced County – $31,750
Monterey County – $133,625
Napa County – $32,000
Nevada County – $31,750
Orange County – $266,625
Placer County – $63,750
Riverside County – $498,750
Sacramento County – $352,500
San Bernardino County – $230,500
San Diego City Attorney’s Office – $63,750
San Diego County – $1,507,625
San Francisco County – $37,000
San Joaquin County – $1,572,500
San Luis Obispo County – $114,500
San Mateo County – $100,000
Santa Barbara County – $15,000
Santa Clara County – $211,000
Santa Cruz County – $52,000
Shasta County – $21,250
Solano County – $295,000
Sonoma County – $84,625
Stanislaus County – $63,750
Sutter County – $16,250
Tehama County – $16,250
Trinity County – $16,250
Tulare County – $151,875
Tuolumne County – $16,250
Ventura County – $1,573,250
Yolo County – $370,375
Yuba County – $16,250
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