Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley this week announced a settlement with Comcast Cable Communications LLC to resolve allegations that Comcast both unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste and discarded records without first omitting or redacting private customer information.
As part of the settlement, Comcast will pay a total of $25.95 million.
“Comcast’s careless and unlawful hazardous waste disposal practices jeopardized the health and environmental well-being of California communities and exposed (its) customers to the threat of identity theft,” said Harris. “This agreement holds Comcast accountable for breaking the law and puts strict measures in place to prevent them from putting Californians and our environment at risk in the future.”
The civil enforcement action and proposed settlement against Comcast were filed today in Alameda County Superior Court by Attorney General Harris and District Attorney Nancy O’Malley.
The settlement requires court approval before it becomes final.
The announcement stems from an investigation by the offices of Attorney General Harris and District Attorney O’Malley, assisted by the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the California Highway Patrol.
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 and systematically sending these materials to local landfills that were not permitted to receive these items.
The majority of the hazardous waste was electronic equipment such as remote controls, splitters, routers, modems, amplifiers, and power adapters. 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, under the final judgment, 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 they might generate, including electronics.
Finally, Comcast will spend a minimum of $700,000 to enhance its environmental compliance and will be prohibited from violating these laws in the future, under the terms of a permanent injunction.
Copies of the civil enforcement action and proposed settlement are attached to the online version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news.