3M to Pay $10.3 Billion for PFAS Claims Resolution

27.06.2023 - 3M has agreed to pay $10.3 billion to resolve legal challenges brought against the company by US public water systems over its discharges of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into US waterways. The deal is subject to approval by a US federal court.

The St. Paul, Minnesota-headquartered company, which announced in December 2022 it would stop making all such “forever chemicals” by 2025, plans to distribute the funds over 13 years to water systems nationwide that have detected PFAS in drinking water, as well as to eligible providers that may detect the substances at “any point in the future.”

In a statement, 3M said this resolves current and future drinking water claims related to PFOA, PFOS and all other PFAS, including those that are included as a portion of the Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) multi-district litigation based in Charleston, South Carolina.

With the settlement, in which the company does not acknowledge liability, 3M will not have to face a test trial in a South Carolina federal court hearing a lawsuit brought by the city of Stuart, Florida.

The city, which also sued a number of other producers of PFAS chemicals, alleged that the Minnesota company made or sold firefighting foams containing PFAS that polluted local soil and groundwater.

In Europe last year, 3M paid €571 million to fund remediation efforts mandated by Belgium’s Flemish regional government for discharges from its plant at Zwijndrecht in the Netherlands.

Commenting on the deal, chairman and CEO Mike Roman said it builds on the company’s recent decision to quit all PFAS as well as its announced exit of PFOA and PFOS more than 20 years ago and its subsequent investments in state-of-the-art water filtration technology.

Both the US and the EU have recently announced plans to crack down on “forever chemicals.” In February, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) said it was drafting legislation to ban or restrict PFAS, acting on a petition by environmental authorities in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

In March, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it would mandate “near-zero” concentrations of PFAS in drinking water supplies, “where enforceable,” adding that this would be its first-ever attempt to set enforceable limits for discharges of the chemicals.

In early June, DuPont and former group units now trading as Chemours (chemicals) and Corteva (agriculture) agreed in principle to a $1.85 billion to out-of-court settle settlement of claims that PFAS discharged from their production facilities contaminated waterways that supply the “vast majority” of US public water systems.

3M still faces PFAS-related lawsuits filed by individuals with personal injury and property damage claims, as well as by US states over damages to natural resources such as rivers and lakes that were not part of the settlement.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist