On eve of bellwether PFAS trial, chemical giants DuPont, 3M eye billion-dollar settlements

By Carey Gillam and Shannon Kelleher

Just days before the start of a bellwether trial in South Carolina over PFAS contamination of drinking water, DuPont and two related companies said they would pay close to $1.2 billion to settle liability claims brought by public water systems serving the vast majority of the US population.

PFAS maker 3M was reportedly also considering a settlement that would keep the company from having to face allegations that it was responsible for knowingly contaminating drinking water supplies around the United States.

The trial set to start Monday is expected to spotlight long-held secret documents about the chemical giant 3M’s knowledge about the dangers of its per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and how it worked with DuPont to conceal risks of PFAS from the public.

DuPont and its related companies were recently severed from the case as they negotiated the settlement in which DuPont will pay roughly $400 million; Chemours, a DuPont spinoff, will pay $592 million; and another DuPont-related company, Corteva, will pay about $193 million.

The companies said the settlement excludes personal injury claims due to alleged exposure to PFAS, as well as claims by state Attorneys General about PFAS contamination of natural resources.

Bloomberg reported Friday that 3M was negotiating a $10 billion payout that would resolve claims and avoid Monday’s trial.

Regarding the potential settlement, 3M said in an email to The New Lede “we don’t comment on rumors or speculation.” In a court filing 3M said that it was not liable and that it “never owned, operated, or otherwise controlled the facilities, disposal sites, and other purported sources of PFAS or related compounds.” The company lacked the “necessary controls over its products after the point of sale,” it said in the filing.

The company said in a statement that it is working to stop the use of PFAS across its product portfolio by the end of 2025, even though “PFAS are safely made and used in many modern products.“