3M Co., DuPont de Nemours Inc. and other makers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have agreed to pay more than $100 million to settle a lawsuit against a Georgia city that claims the chemicals contaminated its drinking water, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Rome, Georgia settles with 3M, DuPont, DuPont spinoff Chemours Co. and other PFAS makers on May 30. The city sued the companies in Floyd County Superior Court over the PFAS used as carpeting stain proofing agents produced by local plants. The ruling comes on the eve of a trial in the case, which is scheduled to begin Monday.
The city is seeking to recoup the nearly $100 million it spent to build a reverse-osmosis system to clean chemicals from the Oostanaula and Etowah Rivers. The city is seeking more than $300 million in damages for the pollution, according to court filings.
The Environmental Protection Agency says PFAS can cause developmental delays in children and increase cancer risks. But the companies dispute the findings and maintain that PFAS is safe.
Sean Lynch, a spokesman for St. Paul, Minnesota-based 3M, confirmed that the manufacturer has reached an agreement in the Rome case. “3M has reached an agreement on the principal terms of a settlement,” Lynch said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to fulfill our commitments to remediate PFAS and respond to litigation by defending ourselves in court or through negotiated resolutions, all as appropriate.”
Dan Turner, a spokesman for DuPont, also confirmed that the manufacturer is participating in confidential settlements, but would not comment on the amount. Chemours representatives did not immediately respond to an email for comment Thursday.
The Rome trial was supposed to begin the same day as the first federal PFAS trial, which is scheduled to begin Monday in US District Court in Charleston, South Carolina. That case, in the city of Stuart, Florida, is one of thousands of PFAS cases being consolidated in that court.
Legal experts say the outcome of the Stuart case will help determine how much 3M will have to pay to settle the PFAS litigation.
Researchers have found PFAS – an industrial byproduct used since the 1950s in products ranging from computer chips and non-stick frying pans to cosmetics – never breaks down naturally and must be removed from waterways. water to landfill or destroy by burning.
The Georgia accord adds to 3M’s burgeoning PFAS exposure, which some analysts estimate at about $143 billion. The largest maker of PFAS has paid nearly $1 billion over the past four years to settle claims by states and cities that PFAS contaminated groundwater and waterways.
State and municipal officials argue that 3M and other PFAS makers have known for decades that the compounds pose a health risk, yet continue to reap billions of dollars in sales that there is no warning to the public about the dangers.
The Georgia case is The City of Rome Georgia v. 3M Company, No. 19CV02405JFL003, Superior Court of Floyd County, Georgia (Rome)
Photo: Signage outside 3M Global Headquarters in Maplewood, Minn., on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. Photo credit: Ben Brewer/Bloomberg
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