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2000-05-04
Hartford, CT. Wal-Mart Sued by State for Pollution

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has stirred up a storm of controversy in Bentonville, Arkansss over the issue of stormwater pollution. The AG announced this week that he has filed suit against Wal-Mart in Hartford Superior Court several weeks ago, claiming that Wal-Mart has been polluting stormwater in the state -- not just at one or two stores, but at eleven separate Wal-Mart locations throughhout Connecticut. "To be a serious statewide polluter at 11 stores gives Wal-Mart a very dubious distinction as an environmental lawbreaker", Blumenthal told Reuters news service. The state's Environmental Protection Commissioner told reporters that his office had made "repeated attempts" to get Wal-Mart to stop violating Connecticut's environmental laws. "Unfortunately," said Commissioner Arthur Rocque, Jr., "Wal-Mart has failed to take their environmental shortcomings seriously, and they continue to create conditions that adversely impact the state's natural resources." The pollution at Wal-Mart comes from their frequent habit of storing fertilisers, pesticides and other pollutants outside their store, often in parking lot areas. Heavy rains then carry these pollutants as runoff from asphalt parking lots into nearby streams, ponds or rivers. Wal-Mart typically said it was "suprising" that the lawsuit was filed. "We've taken significant efforts to correct the problem," said Wal-Mart's Keith Morris (a former Connecticut resident), "which is why the suit is such a surprise...because to assess civil penalties for something that happened last summer is to suggest that we've ignored the concerns of the state, which is absolutely not true. As soon as these incidents were brought to our attention last summer, we took significant efforts to rectify all these violations at each of our stores." Apparently whatever efforts Wal-Mart made at the 11 stores in question were not nearly enough to prevent state officials from hauling Wal-Mart into Superior Court.

What you can do: Residents and neighbors who are fighting Wal-Mart should take note of this Connecticut lawsuit, because Wal-Mart often uses its parking lots as a sales and storage area for garden supplies, including pesticides and fertilisers that communities don't want in their ground water and streams. I recently passed by the Wal-Mart in West Boylston, MA, and one large section of the parking lot had been converted into an outdoor lawn and garden center. Runoff caused by heavy rains can endanger local water resources, and residents should insist during hearings of proposed Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot and similar stores that the company present information detailing any environmental fines. lawsuits or penalties the company has incurred regarding stormwater pollution. Wal-Mart engineers will present a stormwater runoff plan during site plan review -- but more important is: what is the track record of this company's actual performance? This case in Connecticut makes it clear that enforcement officials determined that Wal-Mart was a "serious statewide polluter" that "failed to take their environmental shortcomings seriously." A copy of the April 19th. lawsuit should be introduced as evidence in any Wal-Mart application in your local community. Contact Attorney General Ricard Blumenthal's office for further details.










 
 
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