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7-Eleven Settles Carbon Dioxide Training Case

Chain revises business practices to ensure compliance
Photograph: Shutterstock

MONTEREY, Calif. — The office of the district attorney of Monterey County, Calif., has announceda $1.525 million civil settlement with 7-Eleven Inc. to resolve allegations that the company violated state laws requiring training of store personnel in hazardous-materials handling related to carbonated fountain beverage systems.

District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni joined the district attorneys of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, San Francisco, San Joaquin, Solano, Ventura and Yolo Counties in the prosecution of this case.

7-Eleven did not respond to a request by CSP for comment.

7-Eleven operates or franchises more than 1,700 convenience stores in California. The stores use carbon dioxide for their carbonated fountain beverage systems. Carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless, nonflammable gas. Typically stored in tanks onsite, it is widely used by convenience stores and is safe if handled properly; however, if not handled properly, carbon dioxide can leak unnoticed, displacing oxygen from the air, resulting in serious health effects or even death, the district attorney's office said.

California businesses that use carbon dioxide are required by law to train their employees on safe handling practices and how to detect leaks from tanks and supply lines, and must file certified, completeand accurate reports with local authorities at least annually confirming such training. According to the district attorney's office, an investigation by the prosecutors offices indicated that employees were not receiving the required training in the safe handling of carbon dioxide.

The settlement resolves allegations that 7-Eleven submitted certified reports for California stores that did not accurately and completely disclose employee training information as required by state laws.

The settlement was reached after verification of revisions to 7-Eleven’s business practices designed to ensure that all employees receive proper training. The case was resolved by way of a stipulated final judgment entered in Contra Costa County Superior Court and requires a monetary payment of $1.525 million from 7-Eleven, which is composed of $948,000 in civil penalties, $252,000 for supplemental environmental projects promoting training for California environmental agencies and prosecutorsand $325,000 for reimbursement of investigative and enforcement costs. 7-Eleven must also abide by a permanent injunction to ensure future compliance with the implicated laws.

Separately, in late July, 7-Eleven announced that it has adopted use of the Honeywell Solstice N40—a nonflammable, reduced-energy refrigerant for retailers—to minimize its carbon footprint in its stores in the United States and Canada. Over the past few years, 7-Eleven has implemented several innovative measures to reduce its carbon dioxide footprint, such as LED lighting, energy management systems and high-efficiency HVAC units.

Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 66,000 stores in 17 countries, including about 9,100 in the United States. The chain is No. 1 on CSP’s 2019 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by total number of company-owned retail units.

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