AT&T Agrees To Pay $23.8M, Invest $28M To Settle Claims Of Dumping Hazardous Materials In California

AT&T agreed to pay $23.8 million to settle charges brought by the California Attorney General’s office that it unlawfully dumped old electronic devices and other hazardous materials in the state.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced that the enforcement action, a collaboration with the Alameda County District Attorney’s office and Department of Toxic Substances Control, puts an end to a nearly three year-long investigation into AT&T’s handling and disposal of hazardous waste and materials.

According to the complaint [PDF], more than 235 AT&T warehouse and dispatch facilities in California illegally dumped electronic equipment, batteries, aerosol cans, as well as certain gels, liquids and other items used by AT&T service technicians in delivering telephone, Internet and video services to residential and business customers.

Starting in 2011, investigators from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Environmental Protection Division and California Department of Toxic Substances Control conducted a series of waste inspections of dumpsters belonging to AT&T warehouse and dispatch facilities.

The investigation revealed that AT&T routinely sent hazardous waste to local landfills that were not permitted to receive the materials.

According to the AG’s office, once AT&T was notified of the unlawful dumping, they agreed to implement measures to halt the removal of regular trash until it could be inspected to remove any potentially hazardous waste.

If the order is approved by the court, AT&T will pay $18.8 million in civil penalties and costs, with an additional $3 million going to fund supplemental environmental projects and $2 million to enhance environmental compliance in California.

In addition to paying $23.8 million, the company has agreed to spend $28 million over the next five years to implement its own enhanced environmental compliance measures including multiple layers of protection against electronic waste getting into its regular trash.

Forthcoming measures include contractor inspections of “staging bins” before their contents are deposited in dumpsters, hundreds of unannounced dumpster inspections annually, and three independent audits over five years.

The enforcement marks the first time the state has taken action against a telecommunications company for its management of electronic waste.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces $23.8 Million Settlement with AT&T for Environmental Violations [California Attorney General’s Office]