Tesla fined for breaching hazardous waste law at California factory

Tesla fined for breaching hazardous waste law at California factory
Highlights

  • The company to pay a fine of $31,000 and buy worth $55,000 of emergency response equipment for the local fire department
  • According to the EPA, Tesla did not comply with RCRA regulations in three ways

Tesla reached an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency for violations of hazardous waste that were discovered at the company's Fremont, California factory. Tesla agreed to pay a $ 31,000 fine and, as part of the agreement, will also purchase $ 55,000 emergency response equipment for the Fremont Fire Department.

In 2017, Tesla allowed hazardous wastes to accumulate on the site without a permit beyond the allowed 90 days. EPA found that Tesla did not "quickly clean flammable paint or solvent mixtures," left two 55-gallon containers of hazardous waste open with "no gasket or locking mechanism," and violated air emission regulations for three lines leaky transmission that the waste moved through

The EPA found these violations during two "unannounced inspections" conducted with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) at the Fremont factory in Tesla in November and December of 2017. The agencies presented multiple reports. Violations of the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), a set of regulations drafted in 1976 that give the agency "the authority to control hazardous waste from the 'cradle to the grave', according to the EPA website.

According to the EPA, Tesla did not comply with RCRA regulations in three ways. The agency says that Tesla: did not meet the air emission standards for equipment leaks, did not comply with the management requirements for hazardous waste generators and did not make an adequate determination of hazardous waste for certain solid waste generated at the facility. The EPA did not say specifically how Tesla did not comply with the regulations in each of these capacities. The Fremont Fire Department, DTSC and BAAQMD did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Tesla says it has already complied with the changes required by the 2017 inspection

Tesla said in an email that it has addressed all the issues raised by the inspections. "In the 16 months after the EPA visit, Tesla has made great strides in its environmental program and its continued compliance under Laurie Shelby, our vice president of environmental, health and safety," said a company spokesperson. "We are pleased to have worked collaboratively with EPA Region 9 and are particularly proud that the City of Fremont benefits from the agreed-upon agreement."

This is not the first time that the EPA has fined Tesla. The company had to pay a fine of $ 275,000 as part of a 2010 agreement after failing to obtain proper certification for the original Tesla Roadster. Tesla also paid to BAAQMD fine of $ 139,500 in 2018 for pollution from the Fremont factory.

Tesla has also had other environmental, health and safety problems in the past. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) imposed a fine of $ 71,000 in 2013 after three employees were burned with molten aluminium. Cal-OSHA also fined Tesla $ 29,365 earlier this year for the security risks discovered in the outdoor tent that the company built in 2018, which is where the 3 models are assembled, and the workplace safety agency. I have other investigations open.

The Center for Investigative Reporting has published multiple investigative reports documenting allegations of lax safety standards and unreported injuries. Four anonymous employees also told Bloomberg in 2018 (during some of the most crucial months of the Model 3 production ramp) that managers instructed them to walk through the wastewater on the factory floor. In each case, Tesla said it was not aware of the allegations, or that it dismissed them completely.

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