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AG Bonta announces $5M settlement with Quest Diagnostics over illegal dumping claims

PIX Now - Morning Edition 2/14/24
PIX Now - Morning Edition 2/14/24 10:29

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Rob Bonta's office announced Wednesday that Quest Diagnostics has agreed to a nearly $5 million settlement with the state and several counties to settle a lawsuit alleging illegal dumping.

The company, which runs diagnostic laboratories across the state, was alleged to have unlawfully dumped hazardous waste and medical waste, along with protected health information.

"Quest Diagnostics' illegal disposal of hazardous and medical waste and patient information put families and communities at risk and endangered our environment," Bonta said in a statement. "Let today's settlement send a clear message that my office will hold corporations, including medical services providers, accountable for violations of state environmental and privacy laws."

The attorney general said the settlement is the result of more than 30 inspections conducted by DA's offices at Quest laboratories and patient service centers statewide. Inspectors reviewed the contents of the company's compactors and dumpsters.

During the inspections, hundreds of containers of chemicals were found, along with bleach, reagents, batteries and electronic waste. Inspectors also found unredacted medical information, medical waste and hazardous waste such as used batteries, solvents and flammable liquids.

Along with Bonta's office, district attorneys in Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange, Sacramento, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Ventura and Yolo counties joined in the suit.

"This settlement demonstrates the commitment of my Consumer Justice Bureau to protect the residents of Alameda County against identity theft and ensure that such violations do not occur again," Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price said in a statement.

Bonta said Quest implemented numerous changes after being notified of the investigations, including hiring an independent environmental auditor to review its waste disposal. The company also modified is operating and training procedures at all four of its labs and 600 Patient Service Centers statewide.

Quest has been ordered to pay $3,999,500 in civil penalties, $700,000 in costs and $300,000 for a "Supplemental Environmental Project" to support environmental training and enforcement in the state. The settlement also requires the company to maintain an environmental compliance program, hire a third-party waste auditor and to report annually on progress.

Bonta said the settlement remains subject to court approval.

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