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EPA settles with Tesla over Clean Air Act violations at Fremont plant; $275K penalty

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Tesla Motors Inc. EPA found Clean Air Act violations at Tesla’s automobile manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif. This settlement aligns with EPA’s National Compliance Initiative (NCI), Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants. Under the settlement, Tesla agreed to pay a $275,000 penalty.

People living in communities that are near sources of hazardous air pollutants may face significant risks to their health and environment. The list of hazardous air pollutants, or “air toxics”, includes more than 180 chemicals that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects. Tesla’s facility applied coating materials containing formaldehyde, ethylbenzene, naphthalene, and xylene.

Based on several information requests to Tesla, EPA determined that the company violated federal Clean Air Act regulations known as National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Surface Coating of Automobiles and Light-Duty Trucks from October 2016 through September 2019 by:

  • Failing to develop and/or implement a work practice plan to minimize hazardous air pollutants emissions from the storage and mixing of materials used in vehicle coating operations.

  • Failing to correctly perform required monthly emissions calculations needed to demonstrate that the facility’s coating operations complied with federal hazardous air pollutant standards.

  • Failing to collect and keep all required records associated with the calculation of the hazardous air pollutants emission rate for Tesla’s coating operations.

Tesla has corrected the violations noted in both settlements and returned to compliance.

The Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants NCI, initiated in FY 2020, addresses the adverse health and environmental effects from exceedances of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to which sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contribute, as well as VOC- and hazardous air pollutant (HAP)-related health impacts on communities.


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