Apple paid fine for hazardous material handling at North Carolina data center

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 5
Apple last year was cited, and ultimately paid a $40,000 fine, over the handling of potentially hazardous materials at its Maiden, North Carolina, data center, according to a new report detailing the company's dealings in the state.


Apple's biogas fuel system in Maiden, N.C.


Citing publicly available regulatory documents, The News & Observer reports North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality cited Apple late last year over a number of violations, including failures to conduct "proper determination" of spent fuel cell filter waste material, file a report with hazardous waste authorities, draw up a manifest for transporting hazardous waste and present said waste to EPA-identified transporters or disposal facilities.

Apple also failed to pay thousands of dollars in annual fees charged to companies that produce large amounts of hazardous waste, the report said.

Inspectors evaluated multiple facets of Apple's iCloud operation, including hard drive shredding and using lead acid batteries on site. The company's reliance on fuel cell technology, which creates a byproduct with a high concentration of benzene, was of particular concern. Inspectors said large quantities of hazardous waste were produced between 2014 and 2016.

The fine, which Apple paid without admitting wrongdoing, is one of few blemishes on the company's reputation in the state. Other complaints range from noise issues during construction of the massive $1 billion server farm to Apple's penchant for secrecy. Helicopters are constantly flying in and out of the facility, while some contractors have carped about a distinct lack of local hires.

"Something is going on over there that they don't want people knowing," said David Vosburgh, a retired construction worker whose application to work at Apple's data center was denied. "They're always building. They're very, very, very, very bad people. My opinion is they're terrible."

The statement is in direct contrast with that of Catawba County manager Mick Berry, who in an interview last month lauded Apple's contributions thus far. Currently, the company employs "400 or 500 people" and generates $1.5 million in revenue for the county.

County officials say Apple has invested some $5 billion in the iCloud data center, which accommodates about 400 regular employees and contractors, the report said.

As noted by the publication, Apple's investment in the area has increased Catawba's tax base, allowing for the completion of public works projects like a new city hall and fire station. The county is also kicking off an initiative that seeks to train tech workers and place them in internships paid for by Apple tax proceeds.

Apple also contributes to community programs like a partnership with Duke University to develop biogas solutions for the state. More recently, the company in 2016 signed a deal to convert landfill gas into energy. Other projects are kept out of the public eye, Berry said.

Today's report provides perspective on Apple's impact on North Carolina as rumors of a new campus swirl.

In January, the tech giant announced plans to open a new U.S. campus that will initially house AppleCare workers. Apple CEO Tim Cook later said the company would not hold a public bidding process to decide the facility's location, adding that it had made headway in narrowing down prospective sites.

Reports in May suggested Apple was eyeing North Carolina's Research Triangle for the new campus, while follow-ups said the arrangement is a "done deal" so long as state legislators approve certain financial incentives to breaking ground in the area.

Apple received similar favorable treatment in 2009, when lawmakers passed legislation that cut the company's tax burden by an estimated $46 million over the course of ten years. Catawba County also extended tax breaks as part of the deal, the The News & Observer reports. The original ten-year agreement has since been extended to 30 years.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    matrix077matrix077 Posts: 525member
    "Something is going on over there that they don't want people knowing," said David Vosburgh, a retired construction worker whose application to work at Apple's data center was denied. "They're always building. They're very, very, very, very bad people. My opinion is they're terrible."

    And that attitude is how you won’t be hired David. Best of luck in the future. You may be wiser then. 
    netroxracerhomie3jony0
  • Reply 2 of 42
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,544member
    matrix077 said:
    "Something is going on over there that they don't want people knowing," said David Vosburgh, a retired construction worker whose application to work at Apple's data center was denied. "They're always building. They're very, very, very, very bad people. My opinion is they're terrible."

    And that attitude is how you won’t be hired David. Best of luck in the future. You may be wiser then. 

    I think the "something" is that Apple is very picky in how it wants something done and maybe his credentials simply didn't match Apple's needs. Just because you were turned down for a job, doesn't mean Apple is terrible. You simply didn't meet the requirements for the position. Also, if Apple already has contractors who know exactly what Apple wants and how to deliver then maybe they already have workers as well to put those plans in place. If you like working with a specific company then you stick with them. 

    I simply think he has no clue how Apple does its business. Of course its gonna keep things hush hush, especially if it's a datacenter. Those can be very vulnerable should certain information get into the wrong hands. 

    There's a lot of butthurt going on there. I guess he's never been turned down for a job before. 
    edited July 5 magman1979
  • Reply 3 of 42
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,544member
    On a separate note...I can't wait for people to take this story and run with it on how Apple doesn't really care about the environment as much as they say they do. 
  • Reply 4 of 42
    KuyangkohKuyangkoh Posts: 206member
    macxpress said:
    On a separate note...I can't wait for people to take this story and run with it on how Apple doesn't really care about the environment as much as they say they do. 
    Every large corporation private or public usually deals w contractors on disposal, but still it is Apples responsibility that is why they were fined.....
  • Reply 5 of 42
    thrangthrang Posts: 727member
    Kuyangkoh said:
    macxpress said:
    On a separate note...I can't wait for people to take this story and run with it on how Apple doesn't really care about the environment as much as they say they do. 
    Every large corporation private or public usually deals w contractors on disposal, but still it is Apples responsibility that is why they were fined.....
    And that contractor just blew a relationship with the largest US corporation...nice job
    magman1979sailorpaul
  • Reply 6 of 42
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,192member
    A $40k fine for improper handling of hazardous waste? How is that in any way a disincentive to a company as large and profitable as Apple? I wish fines were based on the gravity of the potential maximum risk to the environment over the longterm multiplied by a factor of the company's wealth so that a company as large as Apple wouldn't even consider trying to get away with harming the environment.


    edited July 5 Jellygoopmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 42
    thrangthrang Posts: 727member
    Soli said:
    A $40k fine for improper handling of hazardous waste? How is that in any way a disincentive to a company as large and profitable as Apple? I wish fines were based on the gravity of the potential maximum risk to the environment over the longterm multiplied by by a factor of the company's wealth so that a company like Apple wouldn't even either being too lazy to care about the risk or trying to get away with it.


    Oh, unequal punishment under the law...nice...
  • Reply 8 of 42
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,047member
    Soli said:
    A $40k fine for improper handling of hazardous waste? How is that in any way a disincentive to a company as large and profitable as Apple? I wish fines were based on the gravity of the potential maximum risk to the environment over the longterm multiplied by by a factor of the company's wealth so that a company like Apple wouldn't even either being too lazy to care about the risk or trying to get away with it.


    How do you know the amount of the fine was not commensurate with the potential damage?
    ericthehalfbeemagman1979
  • Reply 9 of 42
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 258member
    macxpress said:
    On a separate note...I can't wait for people to take this story and run with it on how Apple doesn't really care about the environment as much as they say they do. 
    Soli said:
    A $40k fine for improper handling of hazardous waste? How is that in any way a disincentive to a company as large and profitable as Apple? I wish fines were based on the gravity of the potential maximum risk to the environment over the longterm multiplied by by a factor of the company's wealth so that a company like Apple wouldn't even either being too lazy to care about the risk or trying to get away with it.
    And there you go
    MacProradarthekatmagman1979
  • Reply 10 of 42
    JellygoopJellygoop Posts: 19member
    Soli said:
    A $40k fine for improper handling of hazardous waste? How is that in any way a disincentive to a company as large and profitable as Apple?


    Yep, completely agree.  $40K to a (near) Trillion Dollar company is not something that would make it think twice, so you'd have to question whether it is an effective deterrent (and let's face it, the purpose of a fine is to try and deter you from re-offending).  Now compare that to a $40K fine for a $500K company.  That smaller company would take notice. 

    I'm a strong supporter of % based fines rather than fixed rate, so they are more meaningful as a deterrent.  
    hammeroftruthmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 11 of 42
    thrangthrang Posts: 727member
    Jellygoop said:
    Soli said:
    A $40k fine for improper handling of hazardous waste? How is that in any way a disincentive to a company as large and profitable as Apple?


    Yep, completely agree.  $40K to a (near) Trillion Dollar company is not something that would make it think twice, so you'd have to question whether it is an effective deterrent (and let's face it, the purpose of a fine is to try and deter you from re-offending).  Now compare that to a $40K fine for a $500K company.  That smaller company would take notice. 

    I'm a strong supporter of % based fines rather than fixed rate, so they are more meaningful as a deterrent.  
    Should Macy's means test your income level before telling you the price of a sweater?

    And why would a small violation in one state have a fine based on the entire net worth of a one of the largest corporations in the world.

    Equality is a good idea. Try it, you'll like it.
    steven n.radarthekatericthehalfbeeSpamSandwich
  • Reply 12 of 42
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,041member
    thrang said:
    Jellygoop said:
    Soli said:
    A $40k fine for improper handling of hazardous waste? How is that in any way a disincentive to a company as large and profitable as Apple?


    Yep, completely agree.  $40K to a (near) Trillion Dollar company is not something that would make it think twice, so you'd have to question whether it is an effective deterrent (and let's face it, the purpose of a fine is to try and deter you from re-offending).  Now compare that to a $40K fine for a $500K company.  That smaller company would take notice. 

    I'm a strong supporter of % based fines rather than fixed rate, so they are more meaningful as a deterrent.  
    Should Macy's means test your income level before telling you the price of a sweater?

    And why would a small violation in one state have a fine based on the entire net worth of a one of the largest corporations in the world.

    Equality is a good idea. Try it, you'll like it.
    The EU uses fines based on worldwide revenues as a proper "cure" for EU specific violations of competition rules. I've always questioned that basis myself but apparently it's all legally supported. 
    Jellygoopsingularitymuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 42
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    Apple probably didn't even know about this. It was all some kind of a mistake made by some third party.
    MacProradarthekat
  • Reply 14 of 42
    thrangthrang Posts: 727member
    gatorguy said:
    thrang said:
    Jellygoop said:
    Soli said:
    A $40k fine for improper handling of hazardous waste? How is that in any way a disincentive to a company as large and profitable as Apple?


    Yep, completely agree.  $40K to a (near) Trillion Dollar company is not something that would make it think twice, so you'd have to question whether it is an effective deterrent (and let's face it, the purpose of a fine is to try and deter you from re-offending).  Now compare that to a $40K fine for a $500K company.  That smaller company would take notice. 

    I'm a strong supporter of % based fines rather than fixed rate, so they are more meaningful as a deterrent.  
    Should Macy's means test your income level before telling you the price of a sweater?

    And why would a small violation in one state have a fine based on the entire net worth of a one of the largest corporations in the world.

    Equality is a good idea. Try it, you'll like it.
    The EU uses fines based on worldwide revenues as a proper "cure" for EU specific violations of competition rules. I've always questioned that basis myself but apparently it's all legally supported. 
    Lots of things are legal that are wrong, unfair, or biased, That's what's wrong with the world in many ways.
    radarthekat
  • Reply 15 of 42
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,192member
    DAalseth said:
    macxpress said:
    On a separate note...I can't wait for people to take this story and run with it on how Apple doesn't really care about the environment as much as they say they do. 
    Soli said:
    A $40k fine for improper handling of hazardous waste? How is that in any way a disincentive to a company as large and profitable as Apple? I wish fines were based on the gravity of the potential maximum risk to the environment over the longterm multiplied by by a factor of the company's wealth so that a company like Apple wouldn't even either being too lazy to care about the risk or trying to get away with it.
    And there you go
    How does that prove that Apple doesn't care about the environment? There are many reasons why a company or its employees made mistakes. My point is that when a mistake is made—and mistakes will be made—that a company is accountable in a way that will be too cost prohibitive for them to want to repeat that mistake again, which in turn forces a company to apply more resources into internal audits and checks so that they can keep these issues from happening before they become a problem. IOW, better proactive measures that help the environment.

    I can cite many famous cases in which companies took shortcuts because the projected cost of being caught and fined was much less than doing the right thing up front. Of all the major corporations out there Apple is probably the least likely to act maliciously, but that doesn't mean that shouldn't be held to the same standard that I'm proposing.

    If we use the 7 year-long Apple v Samsung case as an example we see that Samsung's ultimate penalty for stealing Apple's IP means there's no reason that they'll risk doing it again because they've made countless billions slavishly stealing from Apple (but I ultimately don't care about such cases since it's giants fighting giants). What I do care about are the longterm effects on the health of the populace. If we don't make this financially problematic—the only way these company can be hurt—then there's no reason for companies not to take the risk. Need an example: Imagine if you were only fined 10¢ for every MPH you were driving over the speed limit and there were no points to be added to your license if you were caught? Do you think that more people would be speeding?
    edited July 5 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 16 of 42
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,192member
    . . .
    edited July 5
  • Reply 17 of 42
    thrang said:
    Kuyangkoh said:
    macxpress said:
    On a separate note...I can't wait for people to take this story and run with it on how Apple doesn't really care about the environment as much as they say they do. 
    Every large corporation private or public usually deals w contractors on disposal, but still it is Apples responsibility that is why they were fined.....
    And that contractor just blew a relationship with the largest US corporation...nice job
    I doubt that. It was Bloom Energy. They probably just adjusted an invoice for that amount. 

    Bloom is a Sunnyvale company that has some pretty big clients, so the fine was just a little slap on the wrist.  
  • Reply 18 of 42
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,233member
    I thought the only byproducts of fuel cell was water. I thought you pass hydrogen throw carbon plates and it creates electricity and produces water, where is the benzene coming from. 

    Just another example that all these environmentalist say stop using coal and nuclear power and use something like few cell and it to has bad byproducts.
  • Reply 19 of 42
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 586editor
    The difficulty in fines is always what the unintended consequences are as opposed to the desired results.

    Duke Energy spilled coal ash into the Dan River in NC. They were fined and made to clean it up, but the cost of cleanup was steep, and Duke Energy decided they were able to do "cost recovery" by increasing everyone's bill, to the tune of 183 Million. 

    That is, if you want something to be punitive, what do you do in order to prevent it from just being a fee passed on to the consumer? With Duke Energy, the utilities commission has to approve rate increases... which were approved. 
    Solinetroxradarthekat
  • Reply 20 of 42
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,528moderator
    Soli said:
    A $40k fine for improper handling of hazardous waste? How is that in any way a disincentive to a company as large and profitable as Apple? I wish fines were based on the gravity of the potential maximum risk to the environment over the longterm multiplied by a factor of the company's wealth so that a company as large as Apple wouldn't even consider trying to get away with harming the environment.


    Did you just say that some people should be treated differently under the law versus others?  Equal treatment in the eyes of the law is a founding principal of American justice.  
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