Two days after district attorneys from 25 counties in California sued Tesla, alleging the company had mishandled hazardous trash at several of its locations around the state, a settlement was struck.
In response, Tesla has agreed to reimburse the investigation’s expenses with $200,000 and to pay $1.3 million in civil penalties, according to a press release from the San Francisco Office of the District Attorney. Additionally, Tesla is subject to a five-year detailed injunction that mandates staff training and the employment of an outside party to carry out yearly waste audits of its garbage cans at ten percent of its locations. According to the joint announcement issued Thursday evening, these audits will take place annually for a period of five years, during which time auditors will search garbage cans for hazardous waste.
In the future, Tesla will cover these audit costs, the San Francisco District Attorney’s (SFDA) office reports.
Tesla owns 18 solar energy installations and 57 auto repair shops in California. At its Fremont Factory, located in Alameda County, it also produces electric vehicles.
The parties had already reached a settlement before the complaint was lodged, according to the SFDA office, which helped to explain the swift resolution. “This arrangement was reflected in the simultaneous filing of the stipulated judgment and the complaint on Tuesday. However, the judge did not approve of the deal until today, according to an email statement from an SFDA representative.
San Francisco district attorney Brooke Jenkins stated in a statement that “even though electric vehicles may be better for the environment, the manufacturing and servicing of these vehicles still generates many harmful waste streams.” The agreement reached today against Tesla Inc. will help residents of the entire state live in a better environment by halting the illegal and negligent disposal of hazardous trash, which can contaminate our priceless natural resources. We take great pride in enforcing California’s environmental regulations in conjunction with our district attorney partners to guarantee the appropriate handling of these hazardous materials.
Tesla is accused of mislabeling and disposing of materials such as paints, brake fluid, aerosols, antifreeze, acetone, diesel fuel, and more at its production and service facilities across the state. The complaint was filed on January 30 in San Joaquin County Superior Court. According to the claims, Tesla also purportedly disposed of the material incorrectly, both on-site and at landfills that are unable to handle hazardous waste.
Even though the case was only filed yesterday, the environmental investigation took six years to complete.
Prosecutors claim that in 2018, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Environmental Division opened an inquiry after SFDA agents secretly examined Tesla’s garbage cans at its auto repair facilities. Inspections turned up evidence of the unlawful disposal of several used, dangerous vehicle parts, including brake cleaner, antifreeze, and lubricating oils.
Further inspections of Tesla car service centers followed the discovery, which led to the automaker’s Fremont factory’s trash cans. There, they discovered the illegal disposal of more hazardous wastes, such as copper-containing metal car panel welding spatter waste, used paint mix cups from paint repair, and primer-contaminated wipes and debris.
In a joint news release, the SFDA’s office stated that Tesla had improved its compliance and had cooperated with the investigation. Negotiations for a settlement had started before the lawsuit.