Ron Freitas
District Attorney
RON FREITAS District Attorney, San Joaquin County
Protecting Our Community Since 1850 222 E. Weber Avenue, Room 101, Stockton, CA
P. O. Box 990, Stockton, CA 95201
T (209) 468-2400 | F (209) 465-0371
News from the Office of District Attorney Ronald J. Freitas
For Immediate Release
February 1, 2024
CONTACT: Erin Haight, Public Information Officer
T: (209) 414-9057 | E:

Tesla, Inc. Settles Environmental Enforcement Action Brought by California District Attorneys


San Joaquin County District Attorney Ron Freitas, along with 24 other District Attorneys throughout California, announced today that a judge in San Joaquin County has ordered Tesla, Inc. to pay $1.5 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution alleging the electric car company illegally disposed of hazardous waste at its car service centers, energy centers, and its factory in Fremont.

Tesla, Inc., a Delaware Corporation, currently owns and operates approximately 57 car service centers and 18 solar energy facilities throughout California. It also manufactures electric vehicles at its Fremont Factory in Alameda County. 

In the complaint filed in San Joaquin County, prosecutors alleged Tesla, Inc. illegally disposed of hazardous waste generated during its servicing and manufacturing of its electric vehicles in violation of California law establishing the proper control, storage, management, and disposal of hazardous waste. 

"Electric vehicles play a role in environmental betterment, yet it's imperative to recognize that their production and maintenance yield detrimental waste. Today's agreement with Tesla, Inc. underscores our commitment to environmental stewardship. Ensuring companies are responsible for the proper management and disposal of hazardous waste is essential in safeguarding our natural resources and upholding California's robust environmental regulations," expressed District Attorney Ron Freitas. "I am honored to collaborate with our district attorney partners as we collectively strive to enforce these standards and secure a cleaner future for our citizens throughout the state."

The investigation, initiated by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office Environmental Division began in 2018 when San Francisco District Attorney investigators conducted undercover inspections of Tesla, Inc.’s trash containers at its car service centers, which revealed the illegal disposal of numerous used hazardous automotive components (i.e., lubricating oils, brake cleaners, lead acid and other batteries, aerosols, antifreeze, waste solvents and other cleaners, electronic waste, waste paint, and debris contaminated with the above).  

Following this discovery, District Attorney investigators from Alameda, Monterey, Orange, Placer, Riverside, San Diego, and San Joaquin counties conducted additional inspections at Tesla, Inc.’s car service centers throughout California and found similar unlawful disposals. Alameda County District Attorney investigators also conducted waste inspections of trash containers at the Fremont Factory and found Tesla’s unlawful disposal of additional hazardous wastes, including metal car panel welding spatter waste (which can contain copper), waste paint mix cups produced during paint repair and wipes/debris contaminated with primer.

The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office and its Environmental Investigators assisted in initiating inspections concerning Tesla, Inc.’s factory, car service centers, and energy locations. Tesla, Inc. actively participated in the investigation, proactively taking steps to elevate its compliance with environmental protection laws, flagged by the prosecutors. Following notification of the issues, Tesla promptly instituted a practice of quarantining and screening trash containers for hazardous waste at all service centers before disposal at the landfill.

As part of the settlement, Tesla, Inc. is ordered to pay $1.3 million in civil penalties and $200,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation. Tesla, Inc. is also ordered to comply with a detailed injunction for five years. Injunctive compliance measures include, proper training of employees and the hiring of a third party to conduct annual waste audits of its trash containers at ten percent of its facilities. These audits will occur each year for five years and auditors will examine trash containers for hazardous waste.