Tesla to pay $1.5M in lawsuit by CA prosecutors over hazardous waste disposal

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — Tesla agreed to a $1.5 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by a coalition of 25 California counties, including San Diego, accusing the electric vehicle manufacturer of mishandling hazardous waste at various facilities throughout the state.

The settlement was approved by a San Joaquin County court on Wednesday, just two days after the suit was filed by the counties claiming Tesla’s car and energy facilities in the state were improperly disposing of hazardous materials like oil or car batteries in landfills.

Prosecutors said these practices were first uncovered through an investigation by the San Francisco District Attorney launched back in 2018, prompting additional inspections of Tesla centers in other parts of the state and its factory in Fremont.

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San Diego County was among those to conduct investigations into its Tesla facilities. In a statement Friday, District Attorney Summer Stephan says her office’s Environmental Unit looked into the company’s three San Diego-area car service facilities, the findings of which are unclear.

“Our Environmental Unit continues to hold companies accountable when they don’t follow laws that are in place to keep our environment clean and safe,” she said. “Cooperation and coordination with district attorney offices up and down the state has again resulted in a judgment that will not only stop these illegal practices but also stop it from happening again in the future.”

Tesla did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, but agreed to pay a negligible $1.3 million civil penalty and an additional $200,000 for counties’ investigation costs. It also agreed to take additional safety measures and hire a third-party auditor to review its waste practices for five years.

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