The 3M Company on June 22 announced that it will settle lawsuits over ‘forever chemicals’ (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)) in drinking water supplies. The tentative settlement, worth between $10.3 and $12.5 billion and payable over 13 years, will be the largest water contamination settlement in U.S. history, according to SL Environmental Law Group, which helped obtain the settlement.
“The 3M settlement is incredibly significant, as it represents a huge stride toward securing funds for water systems across the country to offset the high costs of PFAS contamination,” said Ken Sansone, partner at SL Environmental, in a news release.
News of the 3M settlement comes on the heels of the announcement of a similar settlement on behalf Chemours Company, DuPont de Nemours Inc. and Corteva Inc., which would create a separate $1.185 billion fund for PFAS impacts to water systems.
Subject to court approval, the 3M agreement:
- Provides funding for public water suppliers (PWS) across the country for PFAS treatment technologies without the need for further litigation.
- Provides funding for eligible PWS that may detect PFAS in the future.
- Resolves current and future drinking water claims by PWS related to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), and all other PFAS, including those that are included as a portion of the Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) multi-district litigation based in Charleston, South Carolina.
- Provides funding for PWS nationwide to conduct testing for PFAS.
"This is an important step forward for 3M, which builds on our actions that include our announced exit of PFOA and PFOS manufacturing more than 20 years ago, our more recent investments in state-of-the-art water filtration technology in our chemical manufacturing operations, and our announcement that we will exit all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025," said 3M chairman and CEO Mike Roman.
The 3M press release noted, “This agreement is not an admission of liability.”
Both 3M and DuPont were the targets of an in-depth investigation via a University of California, San Francisco study, which was highlighted in a recent article from the The Guardian “Chemical industry used big tobacco’s tactics to conceal evidence of PFAS risks.”
The study noted, “The lack of transparency in industry-driven research on industrial chemicals has significant legal, political and public health consequences. Industry strategies to suppress scientific research findings or early warnings about the hazards of industrial chemicals can be analyzed and exposed, in order to guide prevention.”
Chemical Processing's Jonathan Katz wrote about the transparency issues: "Unveiling the Veil: Chemical Industry's Silence Threatens Transparency and Trust."Related articles from Endeavor Business Media
3M announces $10.3B agreement for PFAS remediation -- WaterWorld