Comcast Communications has agreed to pay $26 million to resolve allegations by the state and Alameda County that it unlawfully disposed of hazardous electronic equipment and failed to shred records that contained customers' names, addresses and phone numbers, prosecutors announced on Wednesday.
The settlement resolves a suit filed by California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley that was based on a joint investigation that they said found that the cable company's dispatch and warehouse facilities throughout California had been sending used remote controls, modems, amplifiers and other electronic gear to landfills that weren't supposed to receive them. There are 10 Comcast centers in the county.
Comcast is the parent company of NBC Bay Area.
Harris and O'Malley said the refuse also included sensitive customer information that should have been shredded first.
Harris said in a statement, "Comcast's careless and unlawful hazardous waste disposal practices jeopardized the health and environmental well-being of California communities and exposed their customers to the threat of identity theft."
Comcast said improvements have been made since the charges were brought.
"We're pleased to bring this matter from 2012 to a close and remain committed to the highest standards of environmental compliance," Comcast spokesman Bryan Byrd said in a statement. "We have devoted considerable time and resources toward
our environmental compliance and have taken a number of steps to improve our practices."
He added: "We will continue to invest in the education and training of our employees."
Prosecutors said they've been investigating Comcast since a whistleblower brought the Philadelphia-based company's allegedly unlawful disposal of hazardous electronic items to their attention in 2010. They alleged that Comcast's violations began in 2005.
The settlement, which awaits approval by an Alameda County Superior Court judge, calls for Comcast to pay $19.85 million in civil penalties and costs, $3 million to fund environmental and consumer protection and enforcement, $2.4 million for public service announcements on proper waste disposal over four years and at least $700,000 to improve the company's