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Target to pay $40K to Placer County

Civil lawsuit charged corporation with bad disposal
By: Jenifer Gee Journal News Editor
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Three Placer County agencies will receive an estimated $40,000 portion of a $22.5 million civil settlement with the Target Corporation. News of the settlement was announced Thursday in an afternoon press release from the Placer County District Attorney's Office. Target Corporation, which has a store in North Auburn and others in Roseville and Lincoln, must pay the settlement sum for Target stores dumping pesticides and other hazardous chemicals into drains or trash compactors, according to the release. All stores in the county were involved in the violation, according to Scott Owens, Placer County District Attorney. Twenty other state district attorney's offices joined the civil lawsuit as did the state Attorney General and city attorneys in San Diego and Los Angeles. The lawsuit, originally filed in Alameda County two years ago, claimed that more than 290 California Target stores and distribution centers improperly handled and disposed of hazardous waste over a seven-year period, the release stated. The hazardous materials included pesticides, paint, aerosols, oven cleaners, pool chemicals, drain openers and other flammable, toxic and corrosive materials. As part of the settlement, the Placer County District Attorney's Office will receive $25,000, the Roseville Fire Department will get $7,500 and an additional $7,500 will go to the Placer County Certified Unified Program Agency, which is the county's environmental health agency. Owens said Thursday in a prepared statement that the settlement ``should serve as a warning that businesses will not be allowed to disregard important environmental rules and regulations at the expense of community members, no matter the size of the business.'' The settlement also requires Target to comply with environmental laws and fund several supplemental environmental projects. According to Owens, as a result of the lawsuit, Target stores in the state have adopted new policies and procedures to stop putting hazardous waste in trash compactors and down drains. Stores are now required to maintain hazardous waste in individually labeled containers. Auburn resident and activist Dale Smith said news of the settlement was ``very good.'' Smith and several others involved in Friends of Placer County Communities and the Sierra Club fought the corporation a few years ago in an effort to protect a riparian area and the surrounding heritage oaks near the North Auburn store. Smith said a lack of funds prevented the group from taking the case through the legal system. Smith said he thinks the settlement strengthens current environmental advocate efforts at the Auburn site of the proposed affordable housing project Silver Bend. ``I think that (the settlement) is very good news in terms of the current battle we're having over there with Silver Bend,'' Smith said. ``It points out what we were trying to tell them at the time: without proper investigation of those toxics, you really can't know for sure one way or another if they are there or not.'' Reach Jenifer Gee at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com.