Tesla Sued By Californian Counties Amid Hazardous Waste Allegations

Tesla has been sued by 25 California counties for allegedly mishandling hazardous waste in the US state of California.

The Guardian reported that the lawsuit from 25 California counties includes big name locations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Joaquin and Alameda. They allege the EV giant improperly labelled materials such as antifreeze and sent it to the wrong landfills

California has a total of 58 counties, but the news of the lawsuit will do little to improve Elon Musk’s dim view of the US state where many US tech giants are headquartered.

Image credit: Austin Ramsey/Unsplash

Waste lawsuit

According to the Guardian newspaper, the lawuit was filed on Tuesday in the California state court. It seeks civil penalties and an injunction that would require Tesla to properly handle its waste in the future.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment, the Guardian reported.

Essentially, it seems that the counties have accused Tesla of violating state unfair business and hazardous waste management laws by improperly labelling waste and sending the materials to landfills that cannot accept hazardous material.

California’s hazardous waste management law carries potential civil penalties as high as $70,000 per violation per day, the newspaper noted.

Waste material can include paint materials, brake fluids, used batteries, antifreeze and diesel fuel, the counties reportedly said.

The lawsuit alleges violations have occurred at as many as 101 facilities, including at Tesla’s manufacturing plant in Fremont.

Spokespeople for the counties did not immediately provide additional details about the case, the Guardian reported.

The lawsuit is not the first time Tesla has faced allegations related to its hazardous waste management practices.

In 2019 Tesla reportedly reached a settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over alleged federal hazardous waste violations at its Fremont plant. Tesla reportedly agreed to take steps to properly manage waste at the facility and pay a $31,000 fine.

Then in 2022 Tesla reached a deal with the EPA and agreed to pay a $275,000 penalty after the federal agency alleged the company was failing to keep records and to implement plans to minimise air pollutants from painting operations at the Fremont plant.

Musk and California

Musk already has a very poor view of California, after he had lived in Los Angeles for 20 years.

But in December 2020 Musk announced he had left California and relocated to Texas.

In December 2021 Musk said on a podcast that California was “doing everything it can to encourage people to leave,” and he joked that u-haul was doing great business in the US state.

He also slammed California for ‘overtaxation’ and ‘overegulation’ and ‘overlitigation’.

In 2020 Musk had threatened to move both the Tesla factory and its headquarters out of California altogether, to Texas or Nevada, after he famously clashed with officials in Alameda County over the re-opening of Tesla’s factory during the first Californian Covid-19 lockdown.

His threat to pull the factory of the world’s most valuable carmaker out of California was not realised, after Musk was allowed to re-open the Fremont factory early.

But in October 2021, Elon Musk followed through on his warning, and moved Tesla’s corporate headquarters to Texas.

He is now holding a shareholder vote over whether to incorporate Tesla in Texas, after a judge in Delaware ruled against his $56 billion pay deal that had been agreed back in 2018.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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