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The factory where Tesla makes its zero-emissions vehicles just got fined for polluting

Tesla Fremont Factory emissions

Tesla has agreed to pay regulators a $139,500 fine relating to long-standing emissions problems from its factory in Fremont, California. The plant, which was formerly known as New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) and operated by GM and Toyota, was taken over by Tesla in 2010. The fines relate to “several pieces of malfunctioning equipment” which emitted “elevated levels of smog-forming nitrogen oxides from 2013 to 2016,” according to the SF Chronicle.

Tesla said in a statement that the old equipment was inherited from NUMMI, and that the company “proactively brought the issue to the attention of the District.” In a statement seen by the Chronicle, Bay Area Air Quality Management District executive officer Jack Broadbent said “although Tesla develops electric vehicles and related technologies that California needs to address global climate change, the company still must comply with all their permit conditions.”

Tesla bought the factory in 2010, and converted it to its purpose over the course of the following two years. Deliveries of the Tesla Model S began from the factory in 2012, and it currently produces Tesla’s Model S, Model X, and Model 3. In a statement to BGR, Tesla said that “since we acquired the factory, we have invested more than $3 billion to modernize it. Among other things, we replaced the old equipment from NUMMI that was causing the issue and conducted regular testing to make sure the problem had been addressed and never happens again. As the District has stated, these efforts have been successful.”

The Fremont factory has come under fire from whistleblowing employees in the past, who have alleged that the injury rate at the factory is far above the industry average. Tesla said at the time that “we may have had some challenges in the past as we were learning how to become a car company, but what matters is the future and with the changes we’ve made, we now have the lowest injury rate in the industry by far.”