Tesla Settles Lawsuit Over Mishandling Hazardous Waste: Agrees to Pay $1.3 Million in Penalties and Implements Safety Measures

San Francisco, California – Tesla has reached a settlement just one day after 25 California counties filed a lawsuit against the automaker over allegations of mishandling hazardous waste. The settlement requires Tesla to pay $1.3 million in civil penalties and $200,000 for investigation costs. Additionally, the company will be under a detailed injunction for five years that includes employee training and annual waste audits. The audits will be conducted by a third party and will examine trash containers for hazardous waste at 10% of Tesla’s facilities each year.

These allegations stem from a six-year environmental investigation, which began in 2018 when undercover inspections revealed Tesla’s improper disposal of hazardous automotive components. The inspections initially focused on the company’s car service centers and later expanded to include its factory in Fremont. The investigation found illegal disposal of materials such as lead acid batteries, paints, brake fluid, aerosols, antifreeze, and more. The lawsuit claimed that Tesla incorrectly labeled and disposed of these materials both on-site and at landfills that cannot accept hazardous waste.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins stated that the settlement aims to prevent the contamination of natural resources and ensure proper handling of hazardous waste. Tesla owns 57 car service centers and 18 solar energy facilities throughout California, in addition to manufacturing electric vehicles at its Fremont Factory in Alameda County.

Tesla cooperated with the investigation and had been engaged in settlement talks prior to the filing of the lawsuit. The swift resolution of the case is notable, although the San Francisco District Attorney’s office did not provide further comment on what prompted the fast turnaround.

While electric vehicles are seen as environmentally friendly, the manufacturing and servicing of these vehicles still generate harmful waste streams. By enforcing California’s environmental laws, authorities seek to safeguard the state’s resources and prevent unlawful disposal of hazardous waste.