Inside The Most Toxic Walmart In The World
On September 15, 2008, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced that it was closing the Garfield Heights Wal-Mart store indefinitely because of ongoing safety concerns at the site, including structural problems and potentially explosive methane gas. “The safety concerns were just too much,” company spokeswoman Tara Stewart said.
The store, located in Garfield Heights, was once part of the failed City View Center shopping plaza, entirely built on top of a gigantic pile of garbage. The consequences of building on a landfill became known shortly after the plaza opened. Several people reported feeling sick, customers and employees alike.
The City View Center project was the first major commercial development in Ohio to be built atop a landfill.
Fast-forward to a decade later. You would think the city, sometimes referred to as Garbage Heights, would have fixed their embarrassing mistake, not made it worse.
The crumbling Wal-Mart is still hauntingly deserted; shattered glass and spray paint cans scattered across the floor are all that remain; an empty shopping cart seems eerily out of place.
In the past, EPA officials have found potentially explosive levels of methane beneath the parking lot, meaning that if a lighted cigarette was dropped down a manhole, the gas could ignite. In my latest YouTube video, you can see an open manhole cover in the parking lot. I also found evidence of cigarette butts and even fireworks remnants scattered throughout the abandoned property.
This really is a good example of what happens when a city is desperate to generate tax income and a powerful company comes into town promising great things. Many people I’ve spoken to believe that the city and Wal-Mart share equal blame for this tragedy by not doing due diligence prior to building on the site.
Wal-Mart remains a commercial giant, especially in Ohio: it is the largest private sector employer in the state. The six heirs of Wal-Mart’s founder Sam Walton have a net worth roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.
Wal-Mart purchases $18 billion worth of goods from China every year. If Wal-Mart were an individual economy, it would rank as China’s eighth biggest trading partner, ahead of Russia, Australia and Canada.
Walmart’s slogan “Save money, Live better” almost seems paradoxical here. It didn’t live up to its own slogan. On the contrary, Wal-Mart wasted a lot of money, and no one here is living any better because of Wal-Mart’s malfeasance. Perhaps Wal-Mart’s new slogan should be “Waste money, live worse.”