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2006-09-27
Pensacola, FL $75,000 Fine Dumped on Target For Chemical Spill

It was announced this week that Target, the fair-haired big box store with the pseudo-upscale reputation, was hammered with a $75,000 for violating the federal Clean Water Act. A roofing foreman working on a Target roof apparently punctured a 275 gallon container with roofing chemicals in it, and then proceeded to dump the contents into the waterways. A U.S. Magistrate Judge ruled that Target knew about the spill, but said nothing about it for three days. The Judge stuck Target with the maximum $25,000 fine per day. The spill took place in October of 2003, so it took nearly 3 years to bring Target to justice. The chemicals were dumped into a storm drain that flows into Pensacola Bay. Target never did report the spill, it was spotted by a resident who saw a white substance in the water, and reported the spill to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The chemicals were identified as zinc oxide and ethylene glycol. The roofing foreman pled guilty last January to lying, when he said the drum held only 5 gallons instead of 275 gallons. He claimed that rainwater had flushed the chemicals into the drain. The foreman spent five months in jail. Target's lawyer stated that the retailer cares about its community, and that the company did not intentionally try to cover up the spill. "Target has learned from this," he said. "There was miscommunication. There wasn't a corporate cover-up." The Judge, however, criticized the retailer for what he called "a preventable accident." "There should have been sufficient training and equipment on hand," the Judge said. An Assistant U.S. District Attorney was even more critical of how Target handled the incident. "They knew he (the foreman) lied to police about the amount. I'm not equating them to Osama bin Laden, but that's a fact. They can't pin it on a rogue employee." An agent for the Environmental Protection Agency pointed out that the foreman "did not receive training on how to deal with spills. There is nothing in the safety manual about spills, and the roofers had no spill kit."

What you can do: Target's lawyer tried to excuse the company by stating that this was the retailer's first roofing job in Florida. Target has enjoyed a much more favorable reputation than its bigger brother, Wal-Mart. But the two companies really have a lot of the worst elements of big business in common. For earlier stories about this company, search Newsflash by "Target."










 
 
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