Wal-Mart focus of hazmat investigation

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles is investigating whether Wal-Mart used its own trucks to move hazardous materials to disposal sites in violation of federal law. Hazmat – in this case, hairspray, paint, aerosol cans and charcoal – is supposed to be shipped via certified haulers.

Wal-Mart spokesperson Sarah Clark says the retailer believes it has done nothing that bypassed any federal or state environmental regulations. “We were surprised to learn that the federal and state authorities in California thought we were violating the law in connection with the transportation procedures we have followed when moving returned and damaged merchandise from our stores to our return centers,” Clark says.

The manner of disposal is not at issue, only the mode of transport to the disposal sites, Clark says. “We are once again reviewing our transportation procedures, taking the necessary action to correct any regulatory problems, and fully cooperating with federal and state officials in California.” Calls to the U.S. Attorney’s Office were not returned.

In a statement released Tuesday, Dec. 20, Wal-Mart echoed the sentiments of many shippers and carriers in calling the federal definition of hazardous waste – which includes soaps, lotions, perfumes, aerosols, nail polish and plant food – “very broad.”