Car Expert

Tesla sued over harmful emissions

By Jordan Mulach
May 15 2024 - 4:24pm
Tesla sued over harmful emissions
Tesla sued over harmful emissions

Electric vehicle giant Tesla has been sued by an environmental group which claims the carmaker's main California factory spews harmful emissions in violation of local laws.

Reuters reports the Environmental Democracy Project filed the complaint earlier this week, alleging Tesla's Fremont factory near San Jose and San Francisco has violated California's Clean Air Act "hundreds of times".

At present, the plant produces Tesla's core lineup for left-hand drive markets, with the Model Y, Model 3, Model S and Model X all rolling down its production line.

According to the nonprofit group, the facility has exposed nearby residents of the region as well as its own workers to nitrogen oxides, arsenic, cadmium and other harmful chemicals, primarily from its paint shop, since January 2021.

Tesla sued over harmful emissions
Tesla sued over harmful emissions

It comes after the Bay Area Air Quality Management District called for an independent hearing board to order Tesla change how it operates its paint shop in order to reduce its emissions.

The agency claims faults with Tesla's emissions abatement system have led the EV giant to notch up 112 notices of violation of the Clean Air Act since 2019, polluting up to 350kg of waste in each instance.

The Environmental Democracy Project not only wants an injunction to halt the excess pollution, but wants Tesla to be fined up to US$121,275 (A$182,400) per day per violation of the Act.

If this fine is applied to each of its previous violations, the carmaker could face US$13.58 million (A$20.43m) in penalties.

It's not the first time Tesla has drawn the ire of Californian residents, after it was sued by 25 of the state's counties for mishandling hazardous waste earlier this year.

Tesla sued over harmful emissions
Tesla sued over harmful emissions

The counties alleged Tesla had violated state unfair business and hazardous waste management laws, improperly labelled waste, and disposed of hazardous waste in landfills not permitted to accept it.

The lawsuit claimed the type of waste handled or produced at Tesla facilities included diesel fuel, antifreeze, used batteries, brake fluids, aerosols, cleaning fluids, liquified petroleum gas (LPG), adhesives and paint materials.

Tesla eventually agreed to pay US$1.5 million to settle the lawsuit, its largest settlement for the resolution of environmental related penalties to date.

It has also previously paid the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a total of US$301,000 (A$452,000) in fines and settlements across two pollution-related incidents at the Fremont factory.

Australia no longer sources any Tesla vehicles from the US, with the Shanghai factory supplying our locally delivered Model Y and Model 3, which have become the two best-selling EVs in the country.

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