PFAS Updates: 3M’s Domestic and International PFAS Issues
Three recent PFAS issues have directly impacted 3M, one of the historic manufacturers of certain PFAS chemicals, both domestically and internationally. In the United States, the PFAS updates for 3M include two settlements to end litigation regarding 3M’s alleged pollution of various waterways in Tennessee and northern Alabama. The first settlement occurred in mid-October over allegations that 3M’s chemical plant polluted the Tennessee River in northern Alabama. 3M agreed to pay $98.4 million to resolve the claims. The money agreed upon by the settlement will be used to fund future cleanup efforts, as well as reimburse water agencies in the area for prior efforts to remediate PFAS from the drinking water. In addition,
In addition, on October 26, 2021, 3M agreed to pay $12 million to cease a potential class action against it, which would have been brought by Alabama drinking water customers. The settlement funds will go towards compensating homeowners for drinking water provided to them by five water utilities during October 2013 to October 2016 time period. The utilities provided drinking water to approximately 17,000 households.
Internationally, the PFAS updates include news that on November 1, 2021, 3M announced that it stopped production at its plant in Zwijndrecht, Belgium after the country’s environmental agency barred emissions from the facility that contained PFAS. Prior to the order from the government agency, the government reportedly released a report that showed that “…59% of adults and adolescents living within about two miles of 3M’s Zwijndrecht plant had concentrated levels of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, one type of PFAS, in their blood.” The Belgian government previously targeted the 3M plant in Zwijndrecht over concerns related to piles of soil near the plant, presumably over concerns related to PFAS contamination of the soil. 3M stated that it is committed to spending up to $144.5 million U.S. dollars over the next three years “…in actions related to the Zwijndrecht community.”