Tesla Accused of Mishandling Hazardous Waste in New Lawsuit

More than two dozen counties across California accused the company of improperly disposing of materials such as lead acid batteries, antifreeze, diesel fuel, and more

Tesla has been sued by 25 counties across California accusing the electric car company of mishandling hazardous waste at its facilities.

The lawsuit was filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court on Tuesday. Alameda, San Joaquin, San Francisco, and other counties are seeking civil penalties and an injunction that would require Tesla to properly manage its waste in the future. The state’s civil penalty for a hazardous waste violation could cost Tesla up to $70,000 per day.

In the complaint, obtained by TechCrunch, Tesla allegedly improperly labeled and disposed of materials such as lead acid batteries and other batteries, paints, brake fluid, aerosols, antifreeze, acetone, diesel fuel, and more at its production and service facilities across California. The company is also accused of improperly disposing of the waste, both on-site and at landfills that cannot accept hazardous material.

A representative for Tesla didn’t immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.

In 2019, the Elon Musk-owned company reached a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over alleged federal hazardous waste violations at their automobile plant in Fremont. Tesla agreed to take steps to properly manage hazardous wastes at its factory, to buy $55,000 in emergency response equipment for the City of Fremont Fire Department, and pay a $31,000 penalty.


The EPA reached another settlement with Tesla in 2022 — this time the company agreed to pay a $275,000 penalty — after the federal agency claimed it had found Clean Air Act violations at the Fremont facility.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Musk’s brain-chip startup Neuralink was fined for violating US Department of Transportation (DOT) rules regarding the movement of hazardous materials. During 2023 inspections of the company’s Texas and California facilities, the agency’s records indicated that DOT investigators found that the company failed to register as a transporter of hazardous material.

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