San Diego Wal-Mart Stores has agreed to pay $27.6 million to settle allegations that it improperly handled and dumped hazardous waste at stores across California in a case that led to changes in the retailer's practices nationwide, according to the Associated Press.
The settlement ends a five-year investigation involving more than 20 prosecutors and 32 environmental agencies that found violations at 236 of Wal-Mart's stores and distribution centers across California, including Sam's Club warehouse stores, said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
Wal-Mart was accused of improperly disposing of pesticide, fertilizer, paint, aerosols and other chemicals.
The investigation by federal, state and local authorities started in 2005 when an employee from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health saw a worker pouring bleach down a drain, prosecutors said.
Investigators said they found violations at Wal-Mart locations in 42 of California's 58 counties.
San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Karen Doty said officials have been looking into similar violations at other big-box stores.