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Chemical company to pay $10.3 billion for allegedly poisoning public drinking water

3M headquarters in Maplewood, Minnesota. (Anthony Souffle/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)
June 23, 2023

The chemical manufacturing company 3M has agreed to pay a minimum of $10.3 billion to settle multiple lawsuits against the company for poisoning public drinking water systems.

The company’s website explains that the multi-billion dollar settlement will be paid over the next 13 years.

Pending court approval, the settlement would provide funding for public water supplies throughout the country for treatment technology, provide funding for eligible public water supplies that could detect future polyfluoroalkyl substances, and provide nationwide funding for the testing of polyfluoroalkyl substances.

If approved, the settlement would also resolve current and future claims of contaminated drinking water, including the claims of the Aqueous Film Forming Foam litigation in South Carolina.

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“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,” Mike Roman, 3M chairman and CEO, said.

According to Reuters, 3M, is currently facing thousands of lawsuits as a result of polyfluoroalkyl substances water contamination.

Although the company announced that the money in the settlement would support the remediation of public water systems by helping provide funding for the detection of PFAS, 3M did not admit liability for the lawsuits.

Reuters reported that PFAS are considered “forever chemicals” because they cannot be easily broken down in the environment or the body.

PFAS, which have been linked to hormonal issues, cancer, and environmental change, are used in a variety of products, including cosmetics and cookware.

The $10.3 billion settlement could be increased to as high as $12.5 billion, as the settlement will depend on the number of public water systems that detect PFAS during EPA mandated testing over the next three years, according to the Associated Press

“The result is that millions of Americans will have healthier lives without PFAS in their drinking water,” Scott Summy, one of the attorneys suing 3M and other manufacturers for water poisoning, said.