After a three year investigation, Walgreens has been ordered to pay more than 16 million dollars to Riverside County and 41 other California counties to settle a civil action lawsuit alleging hazardous waste disposal violations and instances in which customers medical information was not properly protected.
The lawsuit alleges the drugstore chain dumped pesticides, bleach, paint, automotive products, solvents, pharmaceutical waste and corrosive materials in open rash bins, mixed with other garbage, instead of designated containers.
Investigators examined the contents of trash bins at four Walgreens stores in the county and discovered batteries, nail polish, electronic devices and pharmaceutical products.
There are 53 stores in the county and more than 600 across the state.
The civil suit also alleged that Walgreens had not taken appropriate steps to preserve the confidentiality of pharmacy customers' medical information. According to the plaintiffs, patient records were haphazardly discarded.
Of the $16.57 million settlement, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office was awarded just over $1 million in civil penalties, while the Department of Environmental Health was awarded $219,570.
Under the settlement, certified by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynee Carvill, Walgreens agreed to ensure that all potentially hazardous waste
is properly isolated and contained for the safety of customers and employees.