September 29, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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US withdraws objection to 3M’s $10.3 billion PFAS settlement

US withdraws objection to 3M’s $10.3 billion PFAS settlement

A group of 22 US states and territories has withdrawn its bid to block a $10.3 billion settlement between 3M and US public water companies.

The states withdrew their objections late Monday after negotiating with 3M and water companies over changes to a proposed agreement that would settle hundreds of lawsuits against the Minnesota company over perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

3M, water companies and states in a joint lawsuit in federal court in South Carolina say the changes allow individual water companies to get an estimate of their expected wages before agreeing to contracts, and they give water companies more time to make decisions. Whether to withdraw from the agreement and clarify whether states can still file separate lawsuits over PFAS contamination.

That is subject to approval by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in Charleston, South Carolina, who is overseeing the case.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office originally opposed the deal, said in a statement Tuesday that “the new deal will ensure 3M is held accountable.”

Scott Summey, an attorney for the water companies, said he was pleased the states had withdrawn their objections after weeks of joint negotiations between the parties.

3M did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The states objected in July, saying the agreement did not adequately consider the damage caused by PFAS and did not provide water companies with enough information to understand whether a solution was appropriate.

PFAS, sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down easily, are used in a range of products from firefighting foam to non-stick pans and have been linked to cancer and hormone disruption.

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The proposed settlement announced in June provides funding to cities, municipalities and other public water utilities over a 13-year period to detect and treat PFAS contamination.

The settlement stems from lawsuits over firefighting foam containing PFAS that was sprayed on fields or at airports and released into groundwater and other waterways.

3M admitted no wrongdoing, saying the solution would help cleanup “at every level.”

California and five other US states and territories objected to the settlement, saying in a separate filing Monday that while they had not yet formally objected, they still believed 3M would have to pay more to settle the lawsuits.

U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency has called PFAS an “urgent public health and environmental problem.”

In December, 3M set a 2025 deadline to stop production of PFAS.