Tesla Sued by 25 California Counties for Alleged Hazardous-Waste Violations

The counties seek civil penalties and an injunction requiring the company improve its disposal practices.
Tesla Sued by 25 California Counties for Alleged Hazardous-Waste Violations
The body of a Tesla Model S is transported by an automated crane at the company's factory in Fremont, Calif., on Oct. 1, 2011. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)
Micaela Ricaforte

A group of 25 California counties is suing electric car company Tesla, alleging the carmaker mishandled hazardous waste at its factories across the state.

The complaint, filed on Jan. 30 by counties including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Joaquin, alleged that Tesla violated several state business and waste management laws by mislabeling hazardous waste and sending it to landfills that don’t accept hazardous waste.

The counties are seeking civil penalties and an injunction that would require the company to properly dispose of its waste in the future, according to the complaint.

Materials such as “used lubricating oils, brake cleaners, used lead acid batteries and other batteries, used aerosols, used antifreeze, waste solvents and other cleaners, electronic waste, waste paint, and contaminated debris” and several other substances were all disposed of improperly, according to the complaint.

Tesla’s Fremont plant has been at the center of the company’s waste scandals in the past.

In 2019, the company settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over allegedly violating federal hazardous waste rules at its Fremont plant. The company paid a $31,000 fine and promised to manage its waste properly.

Three years later, Tesla reached another deal with the EPA, agreeing to pay a $275,000 penalty after the federal agency said the company failed to keep proper records and implement plans to minimize pollution at the plant.