OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Satellite TV provider DISH Network will pay $5.5 million to settle a lawsuit accusing it of illegally disposing of hazardous waste in Alameda County and elsewhere in the state.
DISH Network is alleged to have violated California environmental laws by sending hazardous waste to local landfills that are not equipped or authorized to receive the waste.
According to state Attorney General Rob Bonta, audits of DISH facilities in California found that DISH repeatedly disposed of hazardous waste since 2005 in violation of the Hazardous Waste Control Law and Unfair Competition Law.
"If you break the rules, we will hold you accountable," said Bonta in a press release. "For years, DISH carelessly disposed of and sent hazardous waste to local landfills, ignoring the consequences for our communities and our environment. From there, hazardous chemical elements from electronic devices, batteries, aerosols, and more could seep into soil and contaminate our environment. Today's settlement is critical. Large corporations like DISH have a responsibility to respect our environmental laws and do their part to protect our state's precious resources."
"My Office is committed to holding corporate polluters accountable for violations of state environmental laws," said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley in a statement. "Hazardous electronic waste is ubiquitous, and everyone must do their part to keep these items out of the landfill, especially large corporations who handle high volumes of electronic waste."
As a provider of TV and video services to residential and business customers, DISH employees manage large volumes of electronic equipment, such as remote controls, transformers, and power adapters, various batteries, aerosol cans, and other items classified as hazardous waste.
The Colorado-based company will pay for penalties, costs, and supplemental environmental project to benefit the community while making significant changes to its operations and practices to come into compliance with state law.
Specifically, DISH must:
• Pay $5.5 million, including $3.32 million in civil penalties, $835,500 in litigation costs, and $845,000 for supplemental environmental projects. DISH must also spend $500,000 to implement enhanced environmental compliance measures to ensure proper management of hazardous waste at its California facilities.
• Hire an independent third-party auditor to perform environmental compliance audits at DISH's 25 facilities across the state;
• Conduct regular inspections of facility trash dumpsters and roll-off containers to ensure the containers do not contain hazardous waste; and
• Provide training to employees to ensure compliance with California's hazardous waste laws.
In a statement provided to CBS San Francisco, DISH Network said,
"We became aware of this in 2012 and immediately conducted an internal review, implemented additional protocols and worked with the state of California to ensure we were in compliance with regulations. We have been compliant since the end of 2012. While these issues have been addressed for years, we are pleased to have reached a settlement with the state, particularly one that recognizes our many waste training and management actions that go above-and-beyond the state legal requirements."
According to the attorney general's and Alameda DA's offices, the DISH settlement is the fifth case of a telecom industry giant addressing unlawful disposal and management of hazardous waste. The two offices have also successfully prosecuted AT&T, Comcast, DirecTV, and Cox Communications for similar environmental violations related to illegal disposals of large volumes of electronic waste from their cable and satellite video services.
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