Wal-Mart Fined $3.1 Million for Clean Water Act Violations

Wal-Mart has agreed to pay a $3.1 million fine for storm-water runoff violations of the Clean Water Act, in a settlement with the U.S. EPA and the Justice Department — marking the second time it has paid such a fine, after a $1 million penalty in 2001. The company was charged with violations at 24 construction sites in nine states for allegedly failing to request the proper permits, institute runoff-control plans, or install controls to prevent discharge. Storm-water runoff can carry toxic chemicals and sediment that kill fish and destroy aquatic habitat. Wal-Mart pledged to institute training programs for its contractors and improve storm-water procedures at the 200 or so sites a year where it builds its gargantuan stores. The $3.1 million — the largest fine ever levied against a company for such violations — represents 0.001 percent of the $256 billion in sales Wal-Mart reported for the last fiscal year, and will no doubt teach the giant retailer a very important lesson.