3M Corporation has reached a monumental $10.3 billion settlement with numerous U.S. public water systems to address water contamination issues related to “forever chemicals,” as announced by the chemical company on Thursday.
Under the settlement, 3M will provide funds over a span of 13 years to cities, towns, and other public water systems to test and treat contamination caused by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
While 3M did not admit liability, the company stated that the settlement money will be used to support remediation efforts in public water systems that detect any level of PFAS contamination.
Scott Summy, a lead attorney representing the water systems suing 3M, described the settlement as “the largest drinking water settlement in American history” and highlighted its potential to improve millions of Americans’ lives by ensuring PFAS-free drinking water.
Earlier this month, 3M was scheduled to face a trial in a South Carolina federal court for a lawsuit filed by Stuart, Florida. However, the trial was postponed on the day it was set to begin. Stuart’s 2018 lawsuit claimed that 3M manufactured and sold firefighting foams containing PFAS, which polluted local soil and groundwater. The lawsuit sought over $100 million for filtration and remediation. It was one of over 4,000 lawsuits filed against 3M and other chemical companies.
PFAS, known as “forever chemicals” due to their resistance to breaking down in the human body and the environment, are used in a wide range of products and have been linked to various health issues and environmental damage, including cancer and hormonal dysfunction.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified PFAS as an “urgent public health and environmental issue” and has taken steps to tighten regulations for these chemicals. In March, the EPA announced the first-ever national drinking water standards for six specific PFAS chemicals.
3M plans to stop producing PFAS by 2025. Similarly, three other major chemical companies – Chemours, DuPont de Nemours, and Corteva – recently reached an agreement in principle for $1.19 billion to settle claims of PFAS contamination in U.S. public water systems.
While the recent settlement resolves the claims of public water systems, 3M still faces lawsuits from individuals seeking compensation for personal injury and property damage, as well as lawsuits filed by U.S. states over damage to natural resources such as rivers and lakes that were not included in the settlement.
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