3M Agrees to Settle Lawsuit with Alabama Water AuthorityAugust 16, 2019
3M—a $115 billion dollar company—will pay $35 million to settle a water contamination lawsuit (detailed on docplayer), which alleges the company contaminated the water supply of West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority with industrial chemicals discharged into the Tennessee River. According to WAAY News, 3M’s quarterly report detailed the funding of a new water filtration system by the Water Authority, while 3M agreed to indemnify the Water Authority from liability resulting from the resolution of current and future lawsuits against the Water Authority which allege damage related to 3M PFAS.
3M did not state in the report when the money would be delivered to West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority or how much the water filtration system was expected to cost. Initially, the water contamination lawsuit was filed against Daikin America, Inc., in addition to 3M, however, Daikin settled with WMEL almost a year ago for $4 million. The money from that settlement was used to cover the cost of a temporary carbon filtration plant which was successful in removing PFOA and PROS from the drinking water but was considered a “temporary fix.
The argument by WMEL was that PFOA and PFOS chemicals contaminated the Tennessee River water and that the specific chemicals were unable to be removed through the use of water treatment processes. A site inspection of 3M was conducted in July 2018, with the date of June 1, 2019, set as the “ideal” benchmark to reach an agreement.
What are PFAS?
According to a Bloomberg report, PFAs—or per and polyfluoroalkyl substances—include PFOA and PFOS. PFOA, also known as C8, is a man-made chemical used in the process of making Teflon and similar chemicals. PFOA has the potential to be a health concern because it can stay in the human body and in the environment for long periods of time. While PFOA levels in drinking water are typically low, they can be higher near chemical plants which use PFOA. PFOS is a global pollutant and is the key ingredient in Scotchgard, a fabric protector made by 3M. PFOS were found to be associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease in the general US population, independent of age, sex, body mass, hypertension, diabetes, race, ethnicity, hypertension, and serum cholesterol levels.
AP News noted that both PFOA and PFOS chemicals were contained in sludge dumped on 3M’s riverfront Decatur facility, continuing to contaminate the groundwater there. Both chemicals were also found in off-site dumps and landfills, leading WMEL to allege 3M waste is a primary contaminant of the river. Since hundreds of claims have already been filed against WMEL by customers alleging health issues and property damage stemming from the contaminated drinking water, 3M’s agreement to indemnify WMEL is significant.
Settlement to Be Used to Build Reverse Osmosis Filtration System
According to fluoridealert.com, the recent settlement will allow WMEL to build a reverse osmosis filtration system to the tune of about $29 million in construction costs. WMEL draws raw water from the river, some 13 miles downstream from the 3M plant in Decatur. When the US Environmental Protection Agency tested the drinking water in 2016, they found it tested above lifetime exposure guides for PFOA and PFOS. WMEL provides water to approximately 53,000 people. Although the state of Alabama has an agreement with 3M to “try” to clean up chemicals at the plant site, the state has no limit on what level of chemicals can be discharged from the plant into the Tennessee River.
Helping Clients Who Have Suffered from Exposure to Chemicals in Water
Clients who have been injured as the result of drinking water contaminated with PFOA and PFOS chemicals could find themselves with serious injuries and medical expenses, leaving them sick, unable to work, and therefore, unable to pay. USClaims can help your clients pay both their medical expenses and their regular, day-to-day expenses related to a water contamination lawsuit in anticipation of a court judgment or settlement. Apply now or call us today at 1-877-USCLAIMS to learn more.