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Safeway Inc. consented to pay about $10 million after a two-year examination uncovered that the Pleasanton-based business was inadequately discarding risky materials like drugs and batteries or clients’ therapeutic records, prosecutors declared Monday.
The $9.87 million payment was sanctioned Friday by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne Carvill. Safeway conceded no misconduct, however said it will increase employees training to avoid future risks. The whole case against the company was based on surprise checks of Safeway dumpsters in 2012 and 2013.
Various counties accused Safeway of regulations infringements within over 500 shops and distribution warehouses it owned in in California. The allegations also referred to branded stores like Vons, Pavilions and Pak ‘N Save, as indicated by one of the lead lawyers from Alameda County, Ken Mifsud.
The way Safeway disposed of unnecessary materials became a concern starting with 2012, when San Joaquin and Orange counties district attorneys investigated different companies. At the time, they discovered that Safeway was illicitly transporting unsafe materials back to its centers of distribution.
According to Ken Mifsud, dangerous waste needs to be managed by authorized transporters, and it has to be appropriately labeled. After the initial investigation, prosecutors started waste inspections at all Safeway stores within the state.
Not only did they found shipping irregularities but also that the company’s employees were discarding potentially dangerous materials into ordinary waste bins along with records from drug stores. The medical records obviously contained personal data like patients’ names or addresses. Disposing sensitive documents without shredding them put patients at risk of identity theft. Mifsud also suspects that these types of practices were also carried prior to 2012.
Nevertheless, the district lawyers across state worked with Safeway in the past 2 years to create protocols that would guarantee that materials are discarded legitimately. Apart from the monetary penalties, the settlement likewise commands that the organization proceed with its First Assistant Store Manager Program which covers store level compliance and annual audits.
The company officials announced on Monday that it has improved its waste disposal protocols when it comes to hazardous items like cleansers, mascara, aerosol sprays and hair dye. According to the announcement the company also created new trainings to ensure compliance with existing laws and company strategy and Safeway pledges to protect the environment.
Safeway was bought in March 2014 by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity company. The company sold itself for around $9 billion. The Federal Trade Commission approved the transaction providing that Safeway merges with Albertsons while divesting 168 stores in California and seven different states.
Image Source: The Examiner