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Tesla sued by 25 California counties for allegedly mishandling hazardous waste

Tesla is facing a lawsuit from 25 California counties accusing it of mishandling hazardous waste at facilities around the state, according to a complaint filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court. The lawsuit, which seeks civil penalties and an injunction forcing Tesla to correctly handle waste, was filed after months of negotiations reportedly broke down. Civil penalties could amount to as much as $70,000 per violation per day, Reuters reported.

Los Angeles, San Francisco and other counties accused Tesla of improperly labeling and disposing of materials at transfer stations or landfills “not permitted to accept hazardous waste.” Waste materials include “lubricating oils, brake fluids, lead acid batteries, aerosols, antifreeze, cleaning fluids, propane, paint, acetone, liquified petroleum gas, adhesives and diesel fuel,” the complaint states. It adds that Tesla “continues to do so at and/or from its facilities.”

Tesla revealed that it was being probed by California district attorneys over its waste management handling in a 2022 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing. It stated at the time that it “had implemented various remedial measures, including conducting training and audits and enhancements to its site waste management programs,” according to TechCrunch. It said in October 2023 that it was in settlement talks with District Attorneys across California, but those apparently failed to bear fruit.

Tesla has previously faced legal repercussions over its handling of waste. In 2019, it reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency over federal hazardous materials violations. As part of that, Tesla agreed to properly manage waste at its Fremont plant and pay a $31,000 fine.

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