February 2, 2024
Oakland, CA – Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price joined a statewide coalition of District Attorneys in announcing Tesla, Inc.’s (“Tesla”) agreement to pay $1,500,000 to settle allegations Tesla violated California’s environmental hazardous waste control laws. The settlement also imposes a five-year injunction on Tesla to ensure its future compliance with those laws. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office will receive $312,500 from the agreement.
The settlement resolves a nearly six-year investigation into Tesla’s alleged illegal disposal of hazardous waste at its electric car service centers, solar energy centers, and its Alameda County electric vehicle factory in Fremont. Tesla, in addition to manufacturing its electric vehicles in Fremont, also owns and operates approximately 57 electric car service centers and 18 solar energy facilities throughout California.
“Although Tesla denied any wrongdoing, this settlement and the injunction imposed on it ensures the company will follow environmental laws,” said Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price. “I am happy that Tesla was willing to work closely with investigators from our Consumer Justice Bureau and took steps early on at its Fremont manufacturing plant to prevent any more hazardous automotive or manufacturing waste from going into landfills.”
Starting in 2019, Alameda County District Attorney investigators joined other counties’ investigators in conducting undercover inspections of Tesla’s trash receptacles at Tesla’s electric car service centers as well as its Fremont manufacturing plant. These waste inspections intercepted hazardous automotive wastes that otherwise illegally would have gone into county landfills (i.e., lubricating oils, brake cleaners, lead acid, and other batteries, aerosols, antifreeze, waste solvents and other cleaners, electronic waste, waste paint, and other debris). Among the hazardous wastes that Alameda County investigators found illegally disposed of at the Fremont factory were metal car panel welding spatter waste (which can contain copper), waste paint, and primer-contaminated wipes/debris.
As part of the settlement, Tesla is ordered to pay $1,300,000 in civil penalties and $200,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation, to be divided among the participating counties. (Alameda County will receive $275,000 in civil penalties and $37,500 in costs, the highest share of civil penalties.) Tesla also must comply with a detailed injunction for five years that includes requirements that it properly train its waste-handling employees regarding hazardous waste control laws and hire a third-party consultant to conduct annual waste audits at ten percent of its California facilities. The injunction specifically requires the Fremont factory be among the facilities audited annually.