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Toxic chemical maker 3M will pay $10.3 billion for contaminating drinking water

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Toxic chemical maker 3M will pay $10.3 billion for contaminating drinking water

27/06/2023 and las 08:02 CEST

The American company will clean the public networks of several cities of PFAS after the complaints received

The ‘eternal chemicals’ are related to serious diseases, but they continue to be used in Spain as well

Chemical giant 3M has agreed to pay $10.3 billion to stop polluting with PFAS (perfluorinated substances) public running water distribution systems in the US, as announced by the company itself. PFAS are toxic compounds commonly used by companies to manufacture countless utensils and everyday consumer products.

This commitment is the result of a agreement reached between this American company and the lawyers of the cities that have sued it in court. In exchange for paying these 10.3 billion dollars, they will avoid lawsuits. In addition, 3M affirms that this commitment does not imply that it admits any responsibility for the contamination caused in the drinking water networks of the affected cities and towns.

The company will pay said amount over a period of 13 years to these populations to eliminate the pollution caused by PFAS substances, elements also present in Spain and which are responsible for multiple diseases, according to repeated scientific reports. For this reason, the European Union is studying the massive ban on hundreds of these compounds.

Greenpeace protest against PFAS | Francesco Alesi

The 3M company and others in the chemical sector have been cornered in recent years by a avalanche of complaints, numbering in the thousands according to the Reuters agency, due to contamination by PFAS.

“We have reached the largest drinking water settlement in US history, which will be used to help filter PFAS from public drinking water,” Scott Summy, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “The result is that millions of Americans will lead healthier lives without PFAS in their drinking water.”

3M was due to face trial in federal court in South Carolina earlier this month in a lawsuit brought by the city council of the small town of Stuart, Florida (USA). The judge in charge of the case canceled the trial the same morning it was to begin.

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4,000 complaints against the big chemical companies in the US

The City of Stuart claimed in its 2018 lawsuit that the company manufactured or sold fire-fighting foams containing PFAS that contaminated local soil and groundwater. But that’s just one of the more than 4,000 lawsuits filed against 3M and other companies chemicals.

Certain foams contain PFAS that leach into groundwater | Agencies

Known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down easily in the human body or the environment, PFAS are used in a wide range of productsfrom nonstick cookware to cosmetics, and have been linked to cancer, hormone dysfunction, and environmental damage. The US Environmental Protection Agency has listed PFAS as an “urgent public health and environmental concern.”

The EPA has taken several steps in recent years to tighten regulations for the chemicals, and in March announced the first national drinking water standards for six of the chemicals.

In view of public pressure, 3M has set the year 2025 as the deadline to stop producing PFAS.

Fast Food Containers Also Contain PFAS | Agencies

Three other major chemical companies: Chemours Co, DuPont de Nemours Inc and Corteva Inc announced earlier this month that they had reached a $1.19 billion settlement for contaminating US public water systems with PFAS.

In recent years, and in separate cases, more than a dozen US state prosecutors have sued chemical companies that make PFAS and some of them have gotten huge individual awards: Minnesota, for example, got $850 million from 3M in a deal signed in 2018.


Contact of the Environment section: crisisclimatica@prensaiberica.es

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