Wal-Mart shuts Cleveland-area store, cites safety

NEW YORK Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:49am EDT

A sign marks Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas June 1, 2007. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

A sign marks Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas June 1, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Monday that it closed a Cleveland-area discount store after determining the building posed safety issues, including a slipping foundation, raw sewage backing up into the store and unstable methane gas levels.

The world's largest retailer said it decided to shutter its two-year-old Garfield Heights location, which was built on the site of a former landfill, after an independent review found the store's building systems posed a safety hazard.

"The biggest problem, quite honestly, is methane gas levels and being able to control them, both inside the store and on the property," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Tara Stewart, adding: "We're just finally at a point where we don't think the situation is going to get better."

Methane is a powerful gas emitted from decomposing landfill waste.

Stewart said the retailer had been dealing with problems at the store since it opened, and it was rare for it to have to close a location due to safety concerns. Wal-Mart leases the Garfield Heights store, she said, and is talking to its leasing company about next steps.

The Wal-Mart employees who work at Garfield Heights are being given jobs at nearby stores, she said.

"We don't feel like the economic impact will be a hardship," Stewart said of the store closure.

Wal-Mart opened the Garfield Heights store in August 2006. At the time it said more than 6,000 applicants had applied for the 200 jobs available at the store.

Wal-Mart operates roughly 3,490 namesake discount stores in the United States.

(Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Brian Moss)

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