Comcast has agreed to pay California $25.95 million to resolve allegations that the company unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste and discarded records without first omitting or redacting private customer information.
California attorney general Kamala Harris and Alameda County district attorney Nancy O’Malley filed the proposed settlement and civil enforcement action yesterday in Alameda County Superior Court. They said the majority of the hazardous waste was e-waste such as remote controls, splitters, routers, modems, amplifiers and power adapters.
Harris called Comcast’s e-waste disposal practices “carless and unlawful” and said they put Californians and the environment at risk.
The settlement requires court approval before it becomes final.
According to the investigation, since 2005, Comcast warehouse and dispatch facilities and customer service centers throughout the state unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous waste products, routinely sending these materials to local landfills that were not permitted to receive these items.
The investigation also uncovered that Comcast discarded documents containing sensitive customer information, including names, addresses and phone numbers, into the trash without shredding them or making them unreadable, potentially exposing the information to identity thieves.
If approved by the court, Comcast must pay $19.85 million in civil penalties and costs. An additional $3 million will fund projects furthering environmental and consumer protection and enforcement in California.
Comcast will also be providing CalRecycle with $2.25 million in airtime over a four-year period and $150,000 to develop and produce public service announcements that educate the public on the proper handling and disposal of hazardous waste, including e-waste. Finally, Comcast will spend at least $700,000 to improve its environmental compliance.
The state attorney general and Alameda County DA said Comcast has cooperated with the investigation and taken interim steps to improve its hazardous and universal waste management compliance programs.
Last year, Harris and O’Malley reached a $23.8 million settlement with AT&T over similar hazardous waste disposal violations.