AutoZone agrees to $11M settlement over hazardous waste disposal

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The California Attorney General’s Office said it reached an $11 million settlement against auto parts retailer AutoZone over allegations the company illegally disposed of hazardous waste — such as motor oil and automotive fluids — at landfills not intended for such materials.

Eleven city district attorneys in California joined in the suit that also alleged the 600-store auto parts seller violated laws protecting consumer information by improperly disposing of documents.

“AutoZone must now pay the price for breaking the law. The California Department of Justice is committed to investigating and holding accountable violators of our laws meant to protect California’s environment and communities,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed after 56 inspections of trash receptacles at 49 AutoZone stores from August 2013 to September 2015.

A statement from the attorney general’s office said the inspections “revealed that AutoZone allowed its customers to deposit hazardous automotive fluids and other waste items into regular trash containers in AutoZone stores’ parking lots throughout California.”

The settlement calls for $8.9 million in civil penalties, $1.35 million in supplemental environment projects and $750,000 for reimbursement of investigative and enforcement costs to the state.

AutoZone would receive a $1 million credit if it pays for at least $2 million in additional environmental enhancement work not required by law.

The retailer is also required to submit to a general compliance audit and trash receptacle audit to ensure proper disposal of hazardous materials.

AutoZone did not respond to a call seeking comment.

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