San Diego, CA – Yesterday, California district attorneys announced that a Kern County judge has ordered the Tennessee-based discount retailer Dollar General to pay $1.12 million in civil penalties for "routinely and systematically" violating the law by sending hazardous waste to local landfills. Representatives of the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, which works to address the public health impacts of toxic chemicals found in some dollar store products, issued the following statements in response:
Jose Bravo, Coordinator of the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, said, "Dollar General repeatedly and systematically polluted the environment and endangered people until getting caught by an undercover investigation, and they are just now saying they will put together an internal policy to correct this problem? Wow--what happened to common sense or corporate responsibility? We urge Dollar General to clean up their act and advance a comprehensive hazardous chemicals policy that addresses dangerous substances in their products, and which protects the environment and the health and safety of their workers."
Suguet Lopez, Executive Director of Lideres Campesinas, said, "We've known that communities in the central valley of California already face many sources of exposure to toxic chemicals--including pesticide exposure, drinking water contaminated by oil and gas operations, and diesel emissions. In the past, our testing found that Dollar General products may expose customers and their children to potentially dangerous chemicals, and now we find that Dollar General has also been contaminating our local communities. We truly appreciate California's district attorneys for seeking justice, but what happened to Dollar General's claim of being a responsible corporation?"
Pam Tau Lee, retired program coordinator of the Labor Occupational Health Program at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and a member Grassroots Global Justice, said, "During the inspection regulators also found employee hazardous waste training to be inaccurate or incomplete. A review of Dollar General’s OSHA workplace violations shows that this company has repeatedly violated worker health and safety standards--amounting to over $2 million in fines. 'Environmental Justice' affirms the right of all workers to a safe and healthy work environment, without being forced to choose between an unsafe livelihood and unemployment--which also puts their lives at risk for chronic diseases including cancer. While declaring themselves a 'responsible corporation', these repeated violations demonstrate that the community needs to stay vigilant as Dollar General's health and safety practices have repeatedly put the community and workers' health at risk."
The Campaign for Healthier Solutions is a coalition of over 100 grassroots, environmental justice, public health and community organizations calling on dollar stores to protect their customers by adopting or strengthening their comprehensive toxic chemical policies (as other major retailers have done).
Full product testing results and methodology can be found here: http://www.ecocenter.org/healthy-stuff/reports/dollar-store-report
Photos for use with articles are available upon request.
Jose Bravo; Director, Just Transition Alliance; National Coordinator, Campaign for Healthier Solutions; (619) 838-6694, email@example.com. Jose works with communities contaminated with chemicals, which occurs mostly where low income people of color are living, although everyone is at risk. Habla Espanol.