Wal-Mart Stores has agreed to pay $81 million in penalties as part of a guilty plea on criminal charges of improperly disposing of hazardous waste in California and Missouri.
Prosecutors said the violations occurred between 2003 and 2005 and included employees negligently dumping pollutants from stores into sanitation drains.
The Associated Press reports that the plea agreements announced Tuesday "end a nearly decade-old investigation involving more than 20 prosecutors and 32 environmental groups."
Reuters says "in one instance, according to an earlier court filing, investigators in April 2002 observed 'piles of multicolored unknown fertilizer type substances and torn sacks of ammonium sulfate' at one of the company's stores in California, after learning a child had been playing on a pile of 'yellowish colored powder' near the store's garden department."
Wal-Mart had agreed in 2010 to pay $27.6 million to settle with California authorities on similar charges and in 2012 it paid $1.25 million to Missouri.
"We have fixed the problem," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said. "We are obviously happy that this is the final resolution."