Bloomberg: 3M Aims for Billion-Dollar Settlement in US with PFAS

Bloomberg: 3M Aims for Billion-Dollar Settlement in US with PFAS

Photo: ANP

Industrial conglomerate 3M may reach a $10 billion (€9.3 billion) settlement with several US cities over contamination with PFAS. The parties have reached a preliminary agreement on the matter, Bloomberg writes, based on insiders.

3M has been making poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs for short, for years, as materials for, for example, fire-fighting foam and water-repellent clothing that are non-degradable in nature and rarely eliminated by the human body, leading to environmental and public health concerns. Several thousand lawsuits are pending against 3M by lower governments in the United States, demanding that the group pay for the costs of cleaning up “forever chemicals” that end up in soil or water.

The first trial in a federal lawsuit against 3M over PFAS is set to take place soon in the state of South Carolina. According to Bloomberg, the company hopes to avoid that conflict in court with a billion-dollar settlement. A company spokesperson declined to comment on rumors or speculation to the news outlet.

3M says PFAS are safe and contamination from the material does not pose a major risk to public health. However, the US multinational will stop manufacturing these products from 2025 onwards. The US Federal Environment Agency has linked a group of chemicals to stunted growth in children and increase cancer risks.

3M is not the only manufacturer of PFAS. Chemical companies such as DuPont, Chemours and Corteva do the same. The three companies announced Friday a nearly $1.2 billion settlement with U.S. cities, towns and local water agencies. This has put an end to lawsuits for contaminated ground water.

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In the Netherlands and Belgium, 3M is in a bad light because of chemicals. A branch of the group in Zwijndrecht, Belgium, near Antwerp, discharged PFAS into the Scheldt for several years. The river flows to the West Scheldt in Zeeland.

The Dutch government recently held 3M responsible for all damages caused there by these products. Last year, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) warned of high levels of PFAS in a variety of fish, crustaceans and shellfish in the West Sheld, and it is best to eat as little of them as possible.

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