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Tesla Settles Hazardous Waste Disposal Lawsuit for $1.5 Million

Tesla Settles Hazardous Waste Disposal Lawsuit for $1.5 Million

Automotive dealerships and service centers inherently collect hazardous waste. It is the facility’s absolute regulatory responsibility to properly dispose of hazardous waste at authorized recycling facilities and to track the process from cradle to grave. Tesla learned this the hard way.

On February 1, 2024, Tesla settled a hazardous waste disposal lawsuit that was brought by 25 California District Attorneys for $1.5 million.  Tesla was alleged to have disposes of hazardous waste at its vehicle service centers, energy centers, and its factory in Fremont, California.

Alarmingly, this investigation was started in 2018 when investigators of the Environmental Division of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office covertly inspected trash containers at vehicle service centers and found that numerous used hazardous automotive components were being illegally disposed of in trash containers and illegally going to landfills.  The undercover investigators discovered the following used automotive components in the trash containers:

  • Oil
  • Brake cleaners
  • Lead acid and other batteries
  • Aerosols
  • Antifreeze
  • Waste solvents and other cleaners
  • Electronic waste
  • Waste paint
  • Debris contaminated with the above

These discoveries prompted additional investigations of the other Tesla facilities, which uncovered additional illegal disposal practices.

As part of the hazardous waste disposal settlement, Tesla is required to pay $1.3 million in penalties and up to $200,000 in environmental clean-up fees.  Tesla was also required to properly train employees and to hire third-parties to audit the facilities to ensure compliance.

This company learned the hard way that they should have already had a proactive environmental, health, and safety program to educate employees and to identify and resolve issues – now they’re paying for an EHS program and paying $1.5 million.

KPA is the automotive industry leader in EHS solutions; providing proactive solutions to nearly 15,000 automotive facilities in North America.

KPA offers environmental risk management services to assist you in managing chemicals and hazardous waste at your facilities. We help you document procedural compliance and provide guidance on minimizing waste generation and appropriately managing and disposing of wastes. Our compliance inspections, plan development, and permitting assistance will help you resolve your environmental compliance challenges.

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About the Author

Adam Crowell

Licensed attorney serving as Vice President of Corporate Development at ComplyNet and KPA, the leading provider of RegTech in the auto industry.
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