Comcast Hit With $26M Penalty For Dumping Hazardous Waste AND Revealing Personal Customer Info

Wow. Just wow. It takes a truly awful company to dump hazardous waste. It takes an equally bad business to reveal private customer info. But it takes a Kabletown to do both at the same time.

According to a complaint [PDF] filed last week by California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, cable colossus Comcast warehouses and dispatch facilities in the state have allegedly spent the last ten years unlawfully disposing of hazardous waste products, including electronic equipment (remote controls, modems, power adapters) and batteries, in local landfills that were not permitted to receive these items.

At the same time, California Comcast offices were tossing out documents containing sensitive customer information — names, addresses, phone numbers — without shredding them or otherwise redacting the personal info. Leaving this info available for anyone to find put Comcast customers at risk for identity theft.

Today, Harris and O’Malley announced that they had reached a deal with the nation’s largest cable company. Per the proposed deal [PDF], which still must be approved by the court, Comcast agrees to penalties worth $25.95 million, including $1.6 million that will go to provide lab equipment for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, and $2.25 million over the course of four years in public service announcements about proper handling of hazardous waste. Comcast must also spend a minimum of $700,000 to enhance its environmental compliance policies.

“Comcast’s careless and unlawful hazardous waste disposal practices jeopardized the health and environmental well-being of California communities and exposed their customers to the threat of identity theft,” said Harris in a statement.

“Today’s settlement represents a victory in California’s ongoing efforts to ensure that hazardous waste is disposed of in a safe, legal and environmentally sustainable manner,” explained O’Malley.

The Comcast complaint comes a little more than a year after Harris’ office reached a similar $23.8 million settlement with AT&T. In that case, California investigators found that more than 235 AT&T facilities in the state had 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.

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