National pharmacy chain CVS has agreed to pay $800,000 to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to settle allegations that seven Connecticut stores violated regulations pertaining to hazardous waste and recycling.
According to DEEP officials, inspections of Connecticut CVS stores found mismanagement of hazardous materials used in photographic processing solutions, non-dispensable pharmaceuticals, non-saleable consumer goods and state-mandated recyclables.
This included improper identification, management and disposal of hazardous waste. The alleged violations occurred at stores in Clinton, Coventry, Guilford, Madison, Mansfield, Southbury and Vernon.
CVS Pharmacy Inc. owns and operates approximately 140 stores in Connecticut that offer on-site film development, pharmacy services and over-the-counter health and beauty products.
"This case sends a clear message to anyone doing business in Connecticut — you must know and follow our environmental regulations," DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said in a statement. "CVS failed to ensure the proper handling and disposal of waste products at their stores throughout Connecticut. The mismanagement of these hazardous materials indicated a systemic statewide compliance problem for CVS and presented an unacceptable threat to human health and the environment."
Under the settlement agreement, CVS Pharmacy Inc. has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $300,000 and provide $500,000 to a fund that will promote sound waste management practices in Connecticut. Some of that money will be used to hire qualified environmental management professionals to prepare documents and oversee actions required under the settlement, and to close down 10 former hazardous waste container storage areas that contained spent photographic processing solutions.
The storage areas are located at current or former CVS stores in Middletown, Norwich, Milford, Guilford, Seymour, Mansfield, Coventry, Prospect, Brookfield and Burlington.
The settlement agreement also requires the company to arrange for a consultant to perform unannounced compliance audits at 20 CVS stores throughout Connecticut.
"The company has now committed to modernize its business practices – bringing them into compliance with the law and establishing a variety of ‘best’ environmental management practices that will be used at their stores nationwide," said Esty.
A spokesman for CVS, Michael DeAngelis, issued a statement to the Law Tribune via email confirming the settlement.
"CVS pharmacy has worked closely with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to ensure that we document, store, handle and dispose of hazardous waste and other materials in compliance with applicable state regulations," wrote DeAngelis. "As such, CVS and the DEEP have reached an agreement that resolves environmental issues raised during inspections of certain CVS stores in Connecticut from 2007 to 2009. As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to pay the state $800,000, which includes a $500,000 payment to a state fund to be used for the improvement of solid waste management practices in Connecticut."
Under the settlement terms, CVS admits no wrongdoing. The company says it is currently following all state environmental regulations.
"As a pharmacy health care company that is helping people on their path to better health, we understand the need for a healthy environment," wrote DeAngelis. "CVS is currently meeting the requirements of the state’s environmental regulations and we are committed to enhancing our procedures to ensure continued compliance." •