By Shannon Kelleher
In a move that could help alleviate US public drinking water systems contaminated with harmful chemicals, the conglomerate 3M agreed last week to a settlement of at least $10.3 billion. The announcement comes weeks after the companies Dupont, Chemours, and Corteva agreed to pay about $1.2 billion to settle similar claims.
If approved, the settlement, which could total up to $12.5 billion, would be paid to affected communities over 13 years. The money would go towards the costs of testing for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and removing the toxic chemicals from drinking water.
“This settlement with 3M is a significant step forward in what has been many years of work to make sure that those responsible for the contamination of our nation’s drinking water supply with PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ pay for the damage – not the victims of the contamination,” said Rob Bilott, a lawyer who has spent decades exposing the dangers of PFAS chemicals, in a statement. Bilott serves as the court-appointed advisory counsel to the plaintiffs in this multidistrict litigation (MDL).
While the settlement should help communities receive the resources they need, “questions remain whether [the settlement] will cover all of the injuries that 3M caused,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.
“The agreement does not resolve hundreds of cases that seek compensation for personal injuries and property damage,” said Tobias.