Tesla To Settle California’s Hazardous Waste Lawsuit


Elon Musk’s Tesla will pay $1.5 million as it settles a lawsuit filed this week in California over mishandling hazardous waste

Telsa has reacted quickly after a lawsuit was filed against it this week, alleging the EV maker mishandled hazardous waste in California.

CNBC reported that Tesla will pay a fee of $1.5 million to settle the civil lawsuit filed this week by 25 California counties.

The lawsuit had charged Tesla improperly labelling materials such as antifreeze and sending it to the wrong landfills.

Tesla's Gigafactory in Fremont. Image credit: Tesla
Tesla’s Gigafactory in Fremont. Image credit: Tesla

Lawsuit settlement

According to a statement issued by San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, the settlement fee of $1.5 million includes $1.3 million in civil penalties and $200,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation.

In addition to the settlement fee, Tesla will need to “comply with a detailed injunction for five years”.

“While electric vehicles may benefit the environment, the manufacturing and servicing of these vehicles still generates many harmful waste streams,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins.

“Today’s settlement against Tesla, Inc. serves to provide a cleaner environment for citizens throughout the state by preventing the contamination of our precious natural resources when hazardous waste is mismanaged and unlawfully disposed. We are proud to work with our district attorney partners to enforce California’s environmental laws to ensure these hazardous wastes are handled properly.”

The lawsuit had been filed on Tuesday in the California state court.

It sought civil penalties and an injunction that would require Tesla to properly handle its waste in the future.

The counties had accused Tesla of violating state unfair business and hazardous waste management laws by sending materials to landfills that cannot accept hazardous material.

The suit also alleged that Tesla frequently failed to properly label containers of hazardous materials that it generated, used or stored at its facilities. Tesla also allegedly failed to train employees in proper handling of hazardous waste.

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

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.

Previous fines

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

In 2019 Tesla reached a settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over alleged federal hazardous waste violations at its Fremont plant.

Tesla 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.

Earlier this week Elon Musk revealed 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.