ALAMEDA COUNTY DA ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENTS IN TWO HAZARDOUS WASTE LAWSUITS RELATED TO USED CARS

Pick-N-Pull to pay $2.5 million; Copart $800,000 in civil penalties

OAKLAND, CA — The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office announces a $2.5 million settlement with Pick-N-Pull Dismantlers, and a $800,000 settlement with used car business Copart, for the companies’ illegal disposal of hazardous waste.

Pick-N-Pull operates 21 facilities throughout the state, with two locations in Alameda County (in Oakland and Newark). The company buys end-of-life vehicles, sells their parts, and recycles the remaining steel.

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, an expert when it comes to environmental law, was part of a statewide investigation involving 13 other district attorney’s offices that revealed Pick-N-Pull employees, during their car cleanout process, were illegally dumping hazardous waste into the trash instead of disposing them properly. When employees received the used cars, some contained household hazardous waste stored inside the cars, such as aerosols, batteries, automotive fluids, household chemicals and electronic waste. These hazardous waste items, as well as confidential customer information, were unlawfully disposed of in the regular trash.

Additionally, at several facilities Pick-N-Pull committed water pollution and stormwater violations.

As part of the settlement, Pick-N-Pull will be ordered to conduct waste audits at its facilities and provide enhanced training of its employees, as well pay a total of $2.5 million in civil penalties, costs, and supplemental environmental projects. Alameda County agencies and organizations will be receiving over $278,500 from this settlement. These agencies include the Department of Environmental Health who inspect facilities, and the Alameda County Fish and Game Commission, whose members are appointed by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. This Commission, with assistance from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, provides grant funding for projects that focus on environmental protection throughout Alameda County.

In the similar, but unrelated hazardous waste case, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office settled with Copart Inc. Copart operates a used car business throughout the state with two locations in Hayward.

Copart acts as an intermediary between the sellers and buyers of used vehicles, preparing the vehicles for sale. Similar to the Pick-N-Pull case, a statewide investigation found that Copart employees cleaning out the vehicles were throwing out found hazardous waste items into the trash instead of disposing of them properly. These items included electronic waste, batteries, personal care products, automotive fluids, and other consumer products that should not be disposed of in the ordinary trash.

As part of the settlement, Copart will be ordered to conduct wase audits at its California facilities and provide additional training of its employees. Copart will also be ordered to pay $800,000 in civil penalties and costs. The Alameda County District’s Office and Hayward Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Division will be receiving over $100,000 from this settlement.

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Contact: Public Information Officer Angela Ruggiero // Angela.Ruggiero@acgov.org // (510) 919-0081

Posted on Mar 17, 2022