SACRAMENTO – FedEx Ground Package System Inc. (FedEx), which was alleged to not have suitably handled hazardous materials, has settled its case with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). FedEx will pay $3.4 million in civil penalties as terms of the June 16 settlement.
The shipping company faced allegations that it did not handle, transport, store, recycle or dispose of damaged packages that contained hazardous materials.
Some lessons that can be learned from the case were explained by a DTSC spokesperson.
“Shipping companies need to be aware that they must manage hazardous wastes that come from damaged hazardous materials properly,” Jorge Moreno of the DTSC told the Northern California Record.
There were three related lawsuits regarding the matter.
The June decision settles a case between the DTSC and FedEx from 2014. In 2015, FedEx settled another case for $1.75 million. That case involved a group of district attorneys from California.
The most recent case started when the DTSC filed a complaint alleging that between 2008 and 2014, FedEx did not properly handle hazardous material. The materials included 1,500 broken, damaged, leaking or defective packages. Those packages contained materials that were considered hazardous and in violation of California’s Hazardous Waste Control Law.
The items included in the DTSC’s complaint that were alleged to have been mishandled were solvents, paints, aerosols, insecticides, batteries and other toxic, corrosive or flammable substances.
DTSC also stated that FedEx did not acquire a federal or state hazardous waste generator identification number, something that was required. It also alleged that FedEx did not make determinations in a timely matter as to whether the materials were considered to be hazardous.
Also in 2014, FedEx filed its own complaint which requested relief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. FedEx maintained that packages with hazardous materials found damaged during transport are still in transit and are still subject to federal hazardous materials transport law.
In January 2015, the FedEx’s case was dismissed.
The June settlement in the district attorneys’ case did not resolve all of the allegations brought on and it was dismissed with prejudice based on the case that was pending with the DTSC.
The cases show that California is becoming more aggressive with its efforts to enforce hazardous waste rules in non-industrial companies, such as retailers.
The recent and past court cases do not have anything to do with a previous eight-year investigation of FedEx in which the company was indicted for allegedly shipping prescription drugs for illegal online pharmacies.
“These violations relate to the improper management of hazardous materials and wastes,” Moreno said of the recent court settlement.
California is one of the more advanced states on controlling hazardous waste.
In addition to having to pay $3.4 million in penalties, under the settlement FedEx also has to obtain from the state or federal level a hazardous waste generator identification number for each of its 39 California facilities. FedEx must also label all containers hazardous waste of 119 gallons or less, complete California’s Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifests prior to transporting hazardous waste, and treat or store hazardous waste at points that are authorized by the hazardous waste control law.
“DTSC hopes this case will promote California’s system of managing hazardous waste and safeguard California’s environment,” Moreno said.