Wal-Mart fined $3.1 million for construction runoff

Retail giant Wal-mart will pay a $3.1 million fine to settle a Clean Water Act violation, the Environmental Protection Agency announced May 12.

Wal-mart agreed to pay the fine after the company violated storm water runoff regulations during construction of 24 stores in nine states. The complaint against Wal-Mart stated it had failed to obtain a permit before starting construction, failed to develop a plan to control polluted runoff from a construction site, did not adequately install sediment and erosion controls on jobsites and failed to self-inspect sites and prevent sediment discharge.

“Storm water requirements have been in place for a long time,” said Thomas L. Sansonetti, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Developers like Wal-Mart must share responsibility with their construction contractors to ensure compliance.”

In addition to the large civil penalty to be paid, the settlement requires Wal-Mart to change some of its construction practices. The company will now have to create an aggressive compliance program with its 150 contractors at construction sites nationwide. Wal-Mart must use qualified personnel to oversee the construction of its stores, conduct training and frequent environmental inspections. Project contractors and inspectors must report to the EPA and make quick corrections if any environmental violations are found. Wal-Mart has also agreed to spend $250,000 on a wetlands environmental project in one of the states involved in the federal complaint.

In 2001, Wal-Mart and several contractors agreed to a similar storm water settlement, in which the company paid a $1 million penalty. The latest violations resulted from EPA inspections of other Wal-Mart construction sites.

Besides being the largest retail store in the United States, Wal-Mart is one of the largest commercial developers, building more than 200 stores each year nationwide.

To view a copy of Wal-Mart’s settlement, click on the link to the right.