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Tesla Sued for CA Factory Paint Shop Emissions

FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2024


An environmental nonprofit has filed a lawsuit against Tesla, alleging that the electric car company is violating the Clean Air Act at its Fremont, California, plant.

In a complaint filed in the San Francisco federal court, the Environmental Democracy Project said Tesla has exposed nearby residents and workers to excessive nitrogen oxides, arsenic, cadmium and other harmful chemicals, mainly through its paint shop operations, since January 2021.

The nonprofit reportedly wants an injunction to halt excess pollution, plus civil fines of up to $121,275 per day per violation of the Clean Air Act.

The case is Environmental Democracy Project v Tesla Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 24-02888.

According to CNBC, Tesla landed at 89 on the 2023 Toxic 100 Air Polluters list, an annual study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

In 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reportedly fined Tesla $275,000, saying the company had failed to measure, track and maintain records about its own emissions or to minimize air pollutants from painting operations at the facility.

TMI Coatings, Inc.
Quikspray, Inc.

Earlier this year, Tesla was sued by 25 counties in California for its handling of hazardous waste materials at facilities throughout the state, which was promptly settled.

And, at the beginning of this month, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District requested an abatement order from the agency’s independent Hearing Board to correct air quality violations at the Fremont facility.

APV Engineered Coatings
NLB Corporation

“Tesla has emitted harmful precursor organic compounds and toxic air contaminants directly into the atmosphere without proper abatement, resulting in 112 Notices of Violation since 2019. Each of these violations can emit as much as 750 pounds of illegal air pollution, according to some estimates,” said the regulator in a statement.

“The violations are frequent, recurring, and can negatively affect public health and the environment.”

Seymour Midwest
Rapid Prep, LLC

According to the Air District, the violations are a result from a variety of causes, including Tesla’s thermal oxidizer or related components of the abatement system breaking down repeatedly and emissions are automatically vented directly into the atmosphere without proper abatement.

However, in other cases, the abatement equipment is functioning properly, but Tesla shuts the system down when there are problems with other equipment in the paint shops. 

Tarps manufacturing, Inc.
Just Like New Overspray Management

Tesla reportedly did not respond to a request for comment.

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Tagged categories: Air pollution control; Air quality; Automotive coatings; Clean Air Act; Emissions; Environmental Controls; Hazardous air pollutants; hazardous materials; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Lawsuits; Paint; Program/Project Management; VOC emissions


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