Wal-Mart target of haz-waste investigation

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is the target of a U.S. criminal investigation over how it handled merchandise that is classified as hazardous waste, the company has announced.

The retailer said in a regulatory filing that the investigation centres on the company’s transport of hazardous materials from stores in California to a return centre in Las Vegas. The company said its practice is to move hazardous materials to return centres, then take the materials to sites approved for hazardous waste disposal.

According to Wal-Mart, federal prosecutors say the company potentially violated the U.S. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which requires hazardous waste to be shipped straight to a disposal site via a certified hazardous waste carrier.

“The company cannot predict the outcome of this matter or the amount of any possible loss or range of loss which may arise from this matter,” Wal-Mart said in the filing.

In October, Wal-Mart acknowledged that a grand jury in Los Angeles had subpoenaed the company over its handling of hazardous materials and hazardous waste.

Wal-Mart said state regulators and local authorities in California and Nevada are investigating and that it is co-operating with authorities.

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