San Diego, California - Lowe’s Home Centers will pay $18.1 million to settle claims from San Diego and other California counties that more than 118 stores unlawfully handled and disposed of hazardous waste.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie  Dumanis worked with 31 other state District Attorneys and two city attorneys in a civil enforcement action against the North Carolina-based home improvement chain. The agencies claim that more than 118 Lowe’s stores throughout the state unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous waste and materials over a six-and-a-half-year period.

The material included pesticides, aerosols, paint and colorants solvents, adhesives, batteries, mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs, electronic waste and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials.

“Safely handling dangerous waste is paramount for all businesses in California,” Dumanis said. “Our environmental protection team did an outstanding job prosecuting this case and collaborating with other agencies to arrive at today’s multi-million dollar judgment.”

Between 2011 and 2013, the District Attorney’s Environmental Protection Unit joined the County Department of Environmental Health and other investigators to conduct a series of waste inspections of dumpsters belonging to Lowe’s stores in the state, including the eight Lowe’s stores in San Diego. They found Lowe’s was routinely sending hazardous waste to local landfills not permitted to receive the waste.  Some stores had also accepted items from the public — like batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs — that were supposed to be recycled, but were instead dumped into the trash.

Hazardous waste produced by California Lowe’s stores through damage, spills and returns is currently being collected by state-registered haulers, taken to proper disposal facilities and properly documented and accounted for.