Federal Court Approves ‘Forever Chemical’ Settlement Between 3M and Water Systems for Billions

3M (Credits: The Hill)

A federal district court judge has given final approval to a multi-billion-dollar settlement between public water suppliers impacted by “forever chemicals” and 3M, as announced on Monday.

Under the terms, the Minnesota-based chemical manufacturer will pay these utilities between $10.5 billion and $12.5 billion, depending on the extent of contamination, with payments scheduled through 2036.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in South Carolina granted approval on Friday for the settlement. The settlement relates to multi-district litigation (MDL) consolidating numerous cases against producers of firefighting foam containing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

3M Company (Credits: The New York Times)

This foam, utilized to combat fuel-based fires at military bases, civilian airports, and industrial sites, has contaminated adjacent water systems and communities over decades.

PFAS, known for their persistence in both the body and the environment, have been linked to cancers and other severe illnesses. Thousands of PFAS types are present in firefighting foam, industrial waste, and various household products.

3M chairman and CEO Mike Roman expressed satisfaction with the settlement’s final approval, stating it aligns with the company’s commitment to cease all PFAS manufacturing by 2025, reducing future risks. This settlement follows a previous $1.18 billion agreement with DuPont de Nemours, along with its spinoff firms Chemours and Corteva.

3M ‘forever chemicals’ settlement (Credits: MPR News)

While settlements with chemical manufacturers and public water systems are finalized, the broader MDL continues. Other complaints include cases from municipal property owners, personal injuries, medical monitoring, and federal government challenges.

Class counsel from the AFFF MDL Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee, including Elizabeth Fegan, Michael London, Paul Napoli, Joe Rice, and Scott Summy, approved the agreement.

They noted that water providers would now have the funds to address PFAS-related harm in drinking water systems. They acknowledged that no money can fully compensate for the damage, but they deemed the settlement fair and reasonable.

The attorneys emphasized ongoing litigation against the remaining defendants involved in the contamination crisis. They affirmed their commitment to prioritizing the health and well-being of the nation and its people.

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