March 27, 2023
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Safeway to pay $9.9M after environmental probe


Santa Barbara County will collect $26,250 in fines, costs and penalties as part of a broader settlement with Safeway over improper handling and storage of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste.

In a settlement agreement announced Jan. 5, District Attorney Joyce Dudley, together with 41 other district attorneys statewide and two city attorneys said Pleasanton-based Safeway will pay $9.87 million in penalties and costs to settle with the California jurisdictions. Ventura County will also participate in the settlement.

The agreement comes as Safeway is clearing the final regulatory hurdles to its sale to rival Albertsons. Before Christmas the two chains agreed to divest a number of stores in the Tri-Counties to Haggen Food & Pharmacy, a small regional chain headquartered in Bellingham, Washington.

“The settlement resolves allegations that more than 500 Safeway stores and distribution centers, including its other brands Vons, Pavilions and Pak ‘n Save, violated California laws,” for handling of waste from spills and customer returns, according to a statement from the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

The statement said Safeway cooperated with a broad environmental probe after an investigation showed that the grocery chain was “routinely and systematically” sending waste to landfills “not equipped to receive such waste.”

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the district and city attorneys throughout the state, businesses operating in California are well aware of their environmental responsibilities and our environment is better protected as a result,” Dudley said in the statement.

There are seven Safeway stores in Santa Barbara County, and the company will pay $8,750 in costs and penalties to the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office. An additional $17,500 in costs and penalties will be paid to Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services.