AT&T coughs up $52M to settle hazardous electronic waste case in California

AT&T (NYSE: T) is paying $52 million in civil penalties and environmental compliance to settle an electronic waste dumping case with California that claims the service provider illegally dumped hazardous electronic waste. 

California state officials said that this was the first time it had to take legal action against a telecom company for improperly handling electronic waste. Officials added that the settlement still needs approval from the Alameda County Superior Court.

According to a state investigation, AT&T illegally disposed hazardous waste and other dangerous materials at more than 235 of its warehouses and dispatch centers throughout the state since 2005.

Investigators said the majority of the wastes included old electronic equipment, batteries and aerosol cans and "certain liquids and gels" AT&T service technicians would use in conducting maintenance and service installations.

"This settlement holds AT&T accountable for unlawfully dumping electronic waste," said state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Per the terms of its agreement with the state, AT&T agreed to pay $23.8 million in penalties and spend $28 million during the next five years to conduct "enhanced environmental compliance measures" that were laid out in the settlement.

However, AT&T won't be required to clean up the areas that were contaminated, according to a Reuters report.

An AT&T spokesperson told the Telecom Lead that it is complying with the state and Alameda County to correct the issue.

"We take environmental stewardship seriously, and we've cooperated closely with the state and Alameda County to resolve this issue in a way that is in the best interests of the environment, our customers and all Californians," said an AT&T spokesperson.

AT&T is not the only telco that's facing such a suit. Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) said it faced a similar environmental investigation by California investigators.

For more:
- Reuters has this article
- Telecom Lead has this article

Related articles:
Verizon's enterprise weakness is offset by FiOS revenue strength in Q3
AT&T's U-verse gains help to ease legacy losses in Q3