Minnesota based chemical manufacturer 3M reaches $10.3 billion settlement over contamination of water systems with 'forever chemicals'

Minnesota-based chemical manufacturer 3M reaches $10.3 billion settlement over contamination of water systems with ‘forever chemicals’

3M Pays Big For Forever Chemicals

U.S. Chemical manufacturer 3M Co. will pay at least $10.3 billion to settle lawsuits over contamination of many U.S. public drinking water systems with potentially harmful compounds used in firefighting foam and a host of consumer products, the company said Thursday.

The settlement, pending court approval, was announced by the company in a statement Thursday that said the agreement resolves current and future drinking water claims by public water suppliers concerning drinking water contamination.

The deal would compensate water providers for pollution with per- and polyfluorinated substances, known collectively as PFAS – a broad class of chemicals used in nonstick, water- and grease-resistant products such as clothing and cookware.

The $10.4 Million Settlement

The settlement will be paid over 13 years and could reach as high as $12.5 billion, depending on how many public water systems detect PFAS during testing that EPA has required in the next three years, said Dallas-based attorney Scott Summy, one of the lead attorneys for those suing 3M and other manufacturers.

“The result is that millions of Americans will have healthier lives without PFAS in their drinking water,” Summy said.

The settlement will go toward the treatment, testing, and clean up of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are PFAS.

3M Chairman and CEO Mike Roman described the settlement as “an important step forward” for his company that “builds on our actions that include our announced exit of PFOA and PFOS manufacturing more than 20 years ago.”

Forever Chemicals

Forever chemicals refers to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, a group of synthetic chemicals that do not easily degrade in the environment and are widely suspected to contribute to serious health effects.

The compounds have been detected at varying levels in drinking water around the nation and have been linked to a variety of health problems, including liver and immune-system damage and some cancers.

The Environmental Protection Agency in March proposed strict limits on two common types, PFOA and PFOS, and said it wanted to regulate four others, and that water providers would be responsible for monitoring their systems for these chemicals.

Earlier this month, three other companies, DuPont de Nemours Inc., spinoffs Chemours Co. and Corteva Inc. reached a $1.18 billion deal to resolve PFAS complaints by about 300 drinking water providers.

A number of states, airports, firefighter training facilities, and private well owners also have sued.

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