ECONOMY

Southeast Salem Home Depot distribution center fined for mislabeling hazardous waste

A mislabeled 50-gallon container of weed killer was among the issues that earned Salem’s Home Depot warehouse and distribution center the area’s highest fine from state environmental inspectors in recent years.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality fined southeast Salem’s Home Depot warehouse and distribution center $25,973 on May 21 for failing to determine whether it was generating hazardous waste over a three year period, and for failing to properly label a waste container.

The fine is the largest in the Salem area since 2021, according to state records. The facility is located at 4999 Depot Ct. S.E.

The state agency announced the penalties Monday.

A Nov. 14, 2022, inspection found a 50-gallon container of weed killer was mislabeled and staged for disposal in the non-hazardous waste line. A DEQ records inspection found that the manifest did not list its proper waste code, according to the notice.

Between December 2019 and December 2022, the facility failed to properly determine whether 534 containers of waste and pesticide residue were hazardous, according to the notice.

“DEQ issued this penalty because determining whether wastes you generate are hazardous is the cornerstone of safe management and disposal. Improper storage and management of hazardous waste threatens human health and the environment,” Becka Puskas, interim manager of the office of compliance and enforcement wrote in the notice. 

The facility has generated more than 2,200 pounds of hazardous waste per month, according to the legal notice. 

Home Depot spokeswoman Evelyn Fornes declined to comment on whether Home Depot plans to appeal, citing the DEQ’s ongoing investigation. 

According to Puskas’ notice, the facility has made efforts by working with waste disposal contractors to improve the process, and working to improve its internal process, which the DEQ factored into its penalty amount.

In January, Wireless Structures Consulting Inc. was fined $16,400 for failing to properly determine whether wastes were hazardous, shipping them away without a manifest and for failing to label a tank of used oil. Last summer, Amazon on Northeast Broadway was fined $17,735 for stormwater permit violations. 

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-575-1251

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.