According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, AT&T (NYSE:T) shares hit rock bottom this week, hittin’ their lowest point in three decades. The stock took a nosedive after analysts downgraded it, followin’ claims that AT&T, along with other telecom companies, left toxic lead cables danglin’ on poles, underwater, and buried underground. On Tuesday, AT&T shares dropped 0.6% and closed at $13.45.
AT&T wasn’t holdin’ back when it came to bashin’ the newspaper’s reportin’ and testin’, claimin’ that it differed greatly from the expert testin’ they had commissioned themselves.
In their court filing, AT&T argued that them lead-clad cables only made up a small portion of their network. They estimated that these cables accounted for less than 10% of the roughly two million sheath miles of copper cables they had, and the majority of them were still in active service.
The company pointed out that over two-thirds of their lead-clad cabling was either buried or in conduit, with a small portion runnin’ underwater.
Back in 2021, AT&T had agreed to remove them lead-clad telecommunications cables from Lake Tahoe, which sits on the border of California and Nevada, to settle a lawsuit, even though they believed there was no danger.
In response to the Wall Street Journal’s report, AT&T’s lawyer suggested that the cables should stay put to allow further analysis by independent parties like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They wanted the safety of these cables to be debated with solid scientific evidence rather than sensationalized media coverage.
A status conference is scheduled for Thursday to address the matter.
As of now, there hasn’t been any comment from the newspaper or the EPA.
AT&T pointed out a letter from the non-governmental organization Environmental Defense Fund to the EPA, where they recommended assessin’ the condition of the underwater cables to determine any environmental risks associated with their removal or leavin’ ’em in place.
Tom Neltner, Senior Director of Safer Chemicals at the Environmental Defense Fund, clarified that their intention was to have the EPA investigate the lead cable issue without specifically addressin’ the immediate removal of the Lake Tahoe cables. Neltner emphasized that the goal was to use scientifically sound principles to understand the potential health risks posed by the lead-clad cables.
In their court filing, AT&T claimed that the Wall Street Journal’s testin’ was funded by the Environmental Defense Fund and specifically targeted sites where they expected to find high lead levels.
Neltner, who has been workin’ on lead-related matters for two decades, refuted AT&T’s criticism. He stated that the Environmental Defense Fund provided funds to Marine Taxonomic Services for the identification and collection of samples but did not pay for the analysis. The choice of the laboratory was made by the Wall Street Journal.