Last Updated on February 3, 2024 by TM
Tesla recently settled a lawsuit with 25 California counties just days after being sued for mishandling hazardous waste at its facilities across the state. As part of the settlement, the court has ordered Tesla to pay $1.5 million. Additionally, the agreement includes a provision for hiring a third party to conduct annual waste audits of its trash containers for the next five years. These audits aim to ensure that Tesla is properly managing and disposing of its waste without harming the environment.
The California counties, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, accused Tesla of improperly dumping materials labeled as hazardous at transfer centers and landfills that were not authorized to accept such waste. The complaint, filed in San Joaquin County, alleged that Tesla was illegally getting rid of waste generated during the manufacturing and servicing of its vehicles.
The environmental division of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office initiated the investigation in 2018. Undercover investigators found evidence of Tesla’s illegal activities, discovering materials like aerosols, antifreeze, lubricating oils, brake cleaners, lead acid batteries, electronic waste, and paint in the company’s trash containers. These materials were being disposed of improperly, violating regulations.
Similar investigations by authorities in other California counties found unlawful disposals. For instance, Alameda County authorities looking into Tesla’s Fremont factory activities uncovered the illegal disposal of waste containing copper and primer-contaminated debris.
Tesla had previously settled with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2019 over its handling of hazardous materials. As part of that settlement, Tesla agreed to manage waste properly at its Fremont plant and paid a $31,000 fine. The automaker had also taken steps to screen its trash containers for hazardous waste after being notified of the issue.
Despite previous settlements, the recent lawsuit prompted a new agreement. The court’s order for Tesla to pay $1.5 million serves as a penalty for its past actions. The requirement for a third-party waste audit for the next five years is aimed at ensuring ongoing compliance and preventing illegal disposal of hazardous materials across the state.
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins emphasized the importance of the settlement, stating that it contributes to a cleaner environment for citizens throughout the state. The regular third-party checks will help authorities monitor Tesla’s waste management practices, ensuring that the company follows the agreement and avoids illegally dumping harmful materials in the future.