DISTRICT ATTORNEY GASCÓN & ATTORNEY GENERAL BECERRA ANNOUNCE $11 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH AUTOZONE

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News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón

 

June 18, 2019

 

Twitter: @GeorgeGascon

CONTACT:     ALEX BASTIAN (415) 553-1931          |         MAX SZABO (415) 553-9089

 

DISTRICT ATTORNEY GASCÓN & ATTORNEY GENERAL BECERRA ANNOUNCE $11 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH AUTOZONE

SAN FRANCISCO — Today, District Attorney George Gascón and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced an $11 million settlement with AutoZone, Inc. (AutoZone) to resolve allegations that the company violated state laws governing hazardous waste, hazardous materials, and confidential consumer information. AutoZone is charged with illegally disposing of millions of hazardous waste items, including used motor oil and automotive fluids, at landfills not authorized to accept hazardous waste. In addition to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, the District Attorneys of Alameda, Monterey, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Solano, Ventura and Yolo Counties, and the Los Angeles City Attorney joined Attorney General Becerra in the settlement. 

“When companies take shortcuts that jeopardize the livability of our communities, it’s up to California to hold them accountable and protect our environment for future generations,” said District Attorney George Gascón.  “This is especially true in an era where the federal government is actively rolling the clock back on the most basic environmental protections.”

AutoZone is a retailer and distributor of automotive replacement parts, accessories, and engine additives in North America, and owns or operates approximately 600 retail stores and a distribution center.  Since 2009, AutoZone failed to comply with laws regulating hazardous waste and hazardous materials.  From August 2013 through September 2015, District Attorneys’ offices throughout California conducted 56 inspections of dumpster bins at 49 separate AutoZone facilities. These investigations found numerous instances of unlawful disposal of hazardous waste including batteries, aerosol cans, electronic devices, and hundreds of discarded bottles and other receptacles containing automotive fluids and other regulated hazardous waste. These investigative efforts 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. AutoZone facilities in 45 counties in California were affected by these environmental violations. It is estimated that AutoZone disposed of over five million hazardous waste items in California. The company also violated laws protecting vulnerable confidential consumer information by unlawfully disposing of customer records without having rendered personal information unreadable.

 

The settlement requires a monetary settlement of $11 million. This consists of $8.9 million for civil penalties, $1.35 million for supplemental environmental projects, and $750,000 for reimbursement of investigative and enforcement costs. AutoZone gets a credit of $1 million against the penalties if it incurs at least $2 million in environmental enhancement work not required by law. In addition, the settlement includes provisions requiring AutoZone to undergo a general compliance audit and a trash receptacle audit to ensure hazardous waste and confidential consumer information are being properly disposed of at all facilities. The results of the audit must be shared with the public. The company must also comply with 23 injunctive requirements to comply with environmental protection and confidential consumer information protection laws.

 

Special thanks go to our office’s Senior Inspector Brian Arnold and Assistant District Attorney Gregory Alker.

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