Comcast to pay $26 million for illegally dumping old equipment
Bob Egelko | on December 16, 2015
Comcast has agreed to pay nearly $26 million to settle claims by the state and Alameda County that the company routinely and illegally dumped hazardous electronic equipment into local landfills and failed to shred records that contained customers' names, addresses and phone numbers.
Investigators found that since 2005, the cable company's dispatch and warehouse facilities throughout California had been sending used remote controls, modems, amplifiers and other electronic gear to landfills that were not supposed to receive them, Attorney General Kamala Harris' office said Tuesday in announcing the settlement. The refuse also included sensitive customer information that should have been shredded first, Harris' office said.
"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," Harris said in a statement.
She said Comcast had cooperated since being notified of the investigation in 2012 and improved its disposal practices, while agreeing to hire an independent auditor to monitor its compliance over the next five years.
"We have devoted considerable time and resources toward our environmental compliance and have taken a number of steps to improve our practices," said Comcast spokesman Bryan Byrd.
Harris and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley have won settlements against several California retailers over their disposal of electronic wastes and other hazardous materials. Their cases include a $23.8 million settlement with AT&T last year and a $16.6 million agreement with Walgreens in 2012.
The Comcast settlement includes $19.85 million in civil penalties and costs, $3 million to fund environmental and consumer protection and enforcement, $2.4 million for public service announcements on proper waste disposal over four years, and at least $700,000 to improve the company's practices.
The settlement awaits approval by an Alameda County Superior Court judge.