Wal-Mart pays $250,000 to settle air quality violations
Company sold portable fuel containers that create air pollution
SACRAMENTO: The California Air Resources Board has accepted a
settlement of $250,000 from Wal-Mart Stores for selling portable
gas cans throughout the state that do not comply with state clean
"Enforcement will continue to be an important aspect of cleaning
our air," said Mary Nichols, Air Resources Board Chairman. "The
fumes from these cans should have been prevented."
Investigations by the ARB found that between 2003 and 2007,
Wal-Mart allowed more than 3000 illegal gas cans, to enter their
California distribution system and subsequently be sold.
Historically, because of their large numbers and lack of
emission controls, gas cans contribute substantial amounts of
hydrocarbon emissions, ozone-forming smog and related health
problems. ARB's gas can regulations are intended to ensure that
spillage and evaporative emissions are minimized or eliminated.
This was the fourth time in recent years that Wal-Mart was found
to be distributing illegal gas cans. Recognizing this, ARB
initially sought the maximum fine of $500 for each violation,
but Wal-Mart's own investigations and extensive cooperation led
The repeated violations were due to systematic computer errors
that allowed the products into California. These have since been
rectified. Ultimately, rather than the maximum fine it was
determined that Wal-Mart pay $83 for each gas can violation.
This range is four to five times the amount the individual
products cost consumers.
ARB data shows that the more than 11 million gas cans statewide
contribute about 100 tons-per-day of smog-forming hydrocarbons,
roughly equal to the emissions from all lawn and garden
equipment in the state. Of the 100 tons-per-day about
three-quarters are associated with fuel evaporation from vents
and other types of openings. Permeation - fumes that leak
through the container walls - and spillage contribute about 16
tons per day.
Hydrocarbons from these cans can lead to the creation of ground
level ozone. Ozone irritates and inflames the lining of the
respiratory system and causes coughing, chest tightness, and
shortness of breath. It can worsen asthma symptoms, contribute
to the development of asthma, and cause permanent lung damage.
Among persons already in poor health, repeated exposure can
increase the risk of death. Due to the health hazards of ozone,
California has worked aggressively for decades to reduce outdoor
ozone levels, with considerable success. For more information on
the health effects of ozone, visit
The Air Resources Board is a department of the California
Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and
protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through
effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and
considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air
pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain
health based air quality standards.
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