BOSTON — The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles is investigating Wal-Mart for possibly violating federal regulations governing the transport of hazardous materials.

The company made the disclosure in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The world's biggest retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., said it was named in a criminal probe over whether it improperly used company trucks to move damaged store merchandise deemed hazardous — everything from nail polish and hair spray cans to plant fertilizer — to central return centers, instead of hiring certified carriers to bring materials directly to designated waste disposal sites.

"We had previously reviewed these procedural issues and believed we were in compliance," said a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. "We are once again reviewing our transportation procedures, taking the necessary action to correct any regulatory problems and fully cooperating with federal and state officials in California."

Wal-Mart said documents relating to the "receipt, transportation, handling, identification, recycling, treatment, storage and disposal" of hazardous waste had been subpoenaed, but that the current investigation concerned transport.

The company, which has been successfully sued numerous times over violations of environmental laws, has been trying to improve its record. Chief executive officer H. Lee Scott said Wal-Mart will invest $500 million annually to look for ways to reduce greenhouse gases and improve energy efficiency. Wal-Mart also pledged to reduce waste by 25 percent over the next three years and to conserve as many acres as it builds on for the next decade.

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