The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against eBay for allegedly facilitating the sale of hundreds of thousands of “rolling coal” tampering products. These devices, banned in six states, modify diesel engine vehicles to produce more exhaust fumes, resulting in large clouds of black smoke from the exhaust pipe.
This modification can involve removing the particulate filter in a vehicle, which is there to remove soot from the exhaust. The resulting air pollution spectacle is sometimes used to protest environmentalism, as some drivers will use the modified exhaust to obstruct the vision of hybrid vehicle drivers on the roadway. It has even garnered the nickname “Prius repellent” in many circles.
According to the DOJ, eBay was complicit in the transaction of 343,000 of these devices that violate the Clean Air Act (CAA). The complaint argued that the rolling coal modifications increase the production of “carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and nonmethane hydrocarbons,” which can harm the public. These intentional defects can result in $5,580 in fines each. This would tally up to over $1.9 billion in fines for the internet commerce company.
Other violations outlined by the DOJ
Rolling coal tampering devices aren’t the only prohibited product eBay is being accused of allowing on its site. The DOJ also claimed that the company violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by selling or distributing 23,000 highly toxic insecticides. It said that this was done even after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a stop-sale order that was amended in 2021.
Additionally, the DOJ alleged that eBay distributed 5,600 products that violate the Toxic Substances Control Act’s (TSCA) Methylene Chloride Rule, which prohibits the sale of products with methylene chloride. This compound can be found in select paint removals, and according to the complaint, it can cause harmful side effects, including death.
Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) noted that eBay is not above regulations, stating, “Laws that prohibit selling products that can severely harm human health and the environment apply to e-commerce retailers like eBay just as they do to brick-and-mortar stores.”
In its response, eBay argued that 99.9% of the listings outlined by the DOJ were either removed or blocked entirely, resulting in millions of listings being moderated. It also stated that it would not take the claims lying down, proclaiming, “the Government’s actions are entirely unprecedented and eBay intends to vigorously defend itself.”
Source : SlashGear