Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch today announced a $1.43 million settlement against Kelly-Moore Paint Company (Kelly-Moore) to resolve allegations that the company violated state laws governing hazardous waste by routinely and illegally disposing of paint colorants, paint, electronic devices, aerosol products, and other hazardous wastes into company waste bins destined for municipal landfills not authorized to accept hazardous waste. The lawsuit also resolves allegations that Kelly-Moore failed to shred customer records containing confidential information before disposal.
District Attorney Ravitch stated “Our office is committed to making sure that local businesses properly dispose of hazardous waste in order to protect the environment and the health and safety of our residents. It is also important that businesses properly dispose of and protect confidential consumer information that they receive in connection with providing services in our community.”
Kelly-Moore is a retail paint company in North America. In California it owns or operates approximately 106 retail stores including several in Sonoma County. The investigation of Kelly-Moore was initiated by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) and led by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Environmental Protection Unit. The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office Environmental Consumer Law Division was part of the core team in this effort. From March 2016 through December 2018, inspectors from DTSC, and investigators from district attorney offices statewide including Sonoma County, conducted a series of undercover inspections of waste bins originating at 29 separate Kelly-Moore locations. These inspections found numerous instances of unlawful disposal of hazardous waste paint colorants, paint, electronic devices, aerosol products, and other hazardous wastes. Kelly-Moore also violated laws meant to protect vulnerable confidential consumer information by unlawfully disposing of customer records without having rendered personal information unreadable.
When Kelly-Moore officials were notified by the prosecutors of the unlawful disposals, they immediately agreed to cooperate with the People and promptly implemented measures and dedicated additional resources towards environmental compliance at its stores throughout California. Stores are required to properly manage hazardous waste and to retain their waste in segregated, labeled containers to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and customers and to ensure that incompatible wastes do not combine to cause dangerous chemical reactions.
Hazardous waste produced by California Kelly-Moore stores through damage, spills, and returns is being collected by state-registered haulers, taken to proper disposal facilities, and properly documented and accounted for.
The settlement requires a monetary payment of $1.43 million. This consists of $825,000 for civil penalties, $178,750 for supplemental environmental projects, and $425,000 for reimbursement of investigative and enforcement costs. Kelly-Moore gets a credit of $125,000 against the penalties if it undertakes at least $250,000 in environmental enhancement work not required by law. In addition, the settlement includes provisions requiring Kelly-Moore to employ a California-based compliance employee to oversee Kelly-Moore’s hazardous waste compliance program and to undergo a trash receptacle audit to ensure hazardous wastes and confidential consumer information is properly disposed of at all stores. The results of the audit must be shared with the People. The company must also comply with 28 injunctive requirements pertaining to environmental and confidential consumer information protection laws.
Joining District Attorney Ravitch in this lawsuit are the District Attorneys of Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, Placer, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Yolo Counties.