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3M Set to Initiate Payments to U.S. Drinking Water Systems in Multi-Billion Dollar PFAS Settlement

by Anna

3M, the renowned chemical manufacturer based in St. Paul, Minnesota, has announced plans to commence payments to numerous U.S. public drinking water systems starting in the third quarter, as part of a multi-billion-dollar settlement concerning contamination with potentially harmful compounds. These compounds, known as per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), have been linked to health issues and are found in firefighting foam and various consumer products.

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The settlement, which received final approval from the U.S. District Court in Charleston, South Carolina, calls for payouts to continue until 2036. Depending on the extent of additional contamination discovered, the total amount paid out will range from $10.5 billion to $12.5 billion.

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In a statement released on Monday, 3M’s chairman and CEO, Mike Roman, emphasized the significance of the settlement, stating, “This is yet another important step forward for 3M as we continue to deliver on our priorities.” He further highlighted the company’s commitment to exiting all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025, aiming to reduce risk and uncertainty moving forward.

The agreement aims to compensate water providers for pollution caused by PFAS, which are widely used in nonstick, water-resistant, and grease-resistant products. These “forever chemicals” do not naturally degrade in the environment and have been associated with various health issues, including liver damage, immune-system impairment, and certain cancers.

The settlement originated from a lawsuit filed by Stuart, Florida, one of approximately 300 communities that took legal action against companies producing firefighting foam containing PFAS. The funds provided by 3M will assist in covering the costs associated with filtering PFAS from water systems, with some of the money allocated for additional testing of contamination.

Scott Summy, one of the lead attorneys representing those suing 3M and other manufacturers, expressed optimism about the settlement’s impact on public health, stating, “It’ll help rid our public drinking water systems of PFAS, and that’s the most important thing about the settlement.”

In a related development, DuPont de Nemours Inc. and its spinoffs, Chemours Co. and Corteva Inc., reached a $1.18 billion agreement last June to address PFAS complaints lodged by approximately 300 drinking water providers. The settlements reflect ongoing efforts to address the widespread issue of PFAS contamination and its implications for public health and safety.

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