Science Fiction? EPA Fines Rocket Company for Hazardous Waste Violations

Date: October 1, 2010

Source: US EPA

Casting itself as an impartial regulator or cutting edge, the EPA recently fined rocket developer Space Explorations Technologies, known as SpaceX, $45,600 for hazardous waste violations. SpaceX is the sister company to green-friendly electric car maker Tesla Motors, owned by Elon Musk. A 2009 inspection of the Hawthorne-based SpaceX found hazardous waste comprised of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and acetone (nail polish remover), stuff you could find in your bathroom, was stored longer than allowed, and containers had not been closed and had not been properly labeled. SpaceX is developing rockets it hopes will be used by NASA to service the international space station and to place commercial satellites in orbit. In June, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket reached orbit in a test launch from Cape Canaveral, FL. Its next rocket will place a capsule into orbit. This year the company announced a $492 million agreement with Iridium Communications Inc. to launch a new generation of communications satellites into orbit.


Space vehicle manufacturer SpaceX fined for hazardous waste violations

Release date: 10/01/2010

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined Hawthorne, Calif.-based Space Exploration Technologies, Inc., - also known as SpaceX - $45,600 for violating hazardous waste requirements of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

SpaceX designs and manufactures launch vehicles, which are used to place satellites into orbit and to deliver cargo to the international space station. SpaceX also manufactures the liquid fuel rockets that power the launch vehicles as well as all associated avionics.

"High tech stature does not preclude innovative firms from complying with federal environmental laws that protect their employees, the surrounding community and the environment," said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "SpaceX, like any other manufacturer, will be held accountable for improper storage and handling of the hazardous waste it generates."

During a 2009 inspection of the facility, EPA investigators found that SpaceX, a designer and manufacturer of orbital space delivery systems, had multiple hazardous waste violations. The SpaceX violations included:

  • improperly storing hazardous waste on site for longer than the 180-day time limit;

  • failure to close hazardous waste containers;

  • not labeling or improperly labeling hazardous waste containers;

  • storing hazardous waste in crowded conditions that impaired inspection;

  • failure to perform waste determination.

EPA's hazardous waste rules require facilities to properly store, label and close hazardous waste containers. Facilities must also have properly trained staff, as improperly stored hazardous waste can potentially spill and pose a risk to workers and the environment.

For more information on U.S. EPA's hazardous waste program visit:

Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, (213) 244-1815, Cell (213) 798-1404,

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