Telecommunications giant Comcast has agreed to pay the state of California a hefty sum for illegally disposing of e-scrap and other devices over the past decade and for failing to protect customer information.
The cable TV and Internet provider reached a $25.95 million settlement with the California Attorney General and Alameda County District Attorney. If approved by a court, some of that money would fund a statewide public education campaign on proper e-scrap management.
“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,” Nancy E. O’Malley, Alameda County district attorney, said in a press release.
State investigators discovered that, since 2005, Comcast workers “routinely and systematically” sent electronics, batteries, aerosols cans and other items to landfills that weren’t permitted to receive the materials, according to a press release. They also discarded documents containing sensitive customer information into the trash without making the information unreadable.
The e-scrap consisted mostly of remote controls, splitters, routers, modems, amplifiers, taps, cable filters and power adapters.
A whistleblower brought the hazardous waste violations to light in 2010.
The settlement would impose $19.85 million in civil penalties and costs and $3 million to fund environmental projects.
It would also have Comcast pay the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) $2.25 million for airtime so it can broadcast information about proper e-scrap management and $150,000 to develop public service announcements.
Lastly, Comcast would have to spend at least $700,000 to enhance its environmental compliance efforts.
A Comcast spokesman said the company has “devoted considerable time and resources” toward compliance and has taken steps to improve its practices, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The settlement must still be approved by an Alameda County Superior Court judge. Alameda County includes the cities of Oakland and Berkeley. Comcast has 10 facilities in the county.