Martinez, Calif. – On Tuesday, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton announces a $1,498,750 settlement against New Jersey-based Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. (“Bed Bath & Beyond”) as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution.
The judgment is the culmination of a civil enforcement lawsuit filed last month in Ventura County Superior Court claiming that more than 200 Bed Bath & Beyond stores throughout the state (including Cost Plus, buybuy BABY, Harmon, Harmon Face Values, World Market, and Cost Plus World Market stores) unlawfully handled, transported and disposed of batteries, electronic devices, ignitable liquids, aerosol products, cleaning agents, and other flammable, reactive, toxic, and corrosive materials, at local landfills that were not permitted to receive those wastes.
“The protection of our environment and public health is always a top priority. This settlement acts as a deterrent to other companies as non-compliant companies will be held accountable for violating our environmental laws,” stated DA Becton.
The investigation was initiated by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office after a fire broke out on December 24, 2015 at the City of Oxnard’s Del Norte Transfer Facility in a load of store waste from the trash compactor of the Oxnard Bed Bath and Beyond store. The bagged store waste burst into flames when a city employee used a front-end loader to spread the freshly dumped trash pile. Investigation recovered numerous items of regulated waste, including several electronic items and hazardous waste, including lithium batteries and a small can of lighter fluid.
Following these Ventura County events, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office worked in conjunction with 30 other California District Attorneys, and the Los Angeles City Attorney, and local environmental regulatory officials to conduct a series of undercover inspections of Bed Bath & Beyond store waste around the state. These inspections, and other investigation, revealed that Bed Bath & Beyond sending regulated hazardous wastes from stores to local landfills throughout California.
When notified of the investigation, Bed Bath and Beyond took steps to cooperate and to dedicate additional resources towards environmental compliance and improving its existing regulated-waste management program, including by performing regular self-audits of its compactors and waste bins in California.
Under the final judgment, Bed Bath & Beyond must pay $1,327,500 in civil penalties and as reimbursement of investigation and prosecution costs, of which $124,000 will be paid to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, $16,400,to the Contra Costa County, Health Services Dept., Hazardous Materials Program. The company will pay an additional $171,250 to fund supplemental environmental projects furthering environmental enforcement in California. The retailer will also be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law.