Recent Settlements by Forever Chemical Manufacturers Show a Decent Start Towards Cleaning Up a Global Disaster
June has proven to be a historic month for U.S. communities harmed by exposure to forever chemicals in their water, food, and thousands of daily-use consumer products. Three major settlements were reached with U.S. municipalities who have filed thousands of lawsuits against manufacturers of forever chemicals for massively polluting the entire country (along with the planet as a whole) with these harmful chemicals for decades.
On June 22, 2023, chemical giant 3M agreed to a $10.3 billion settlement with U.S. cities and towns designed to end the company’s liability for allegedly contaminating drinking water nationwide with so-called forever chemicals used in everything from firefighting foam to nonstick coatings.
These man-made “forever chemicals”, so named because they are difficult if not impossible to break down in the environment, are so widespread that nearly all Americans, including newborns, carry them in their bloodstream, and as many as 200 million Americans are exposed to these forever chemicals through their tap water.
Under the settlement terms, 3M is set to pay out the money over 13 years to any cities, counties, and others across the country to test for and clean up forever chemicals – also known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in public water supplies. This settlement impacts approximately 4,000 lawsuits by states and municipalities for contamination with forever chemicals. 3M has also announced that it will exit all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025.
This deal follows a similar June 2, 2023 agreement with Chemours, DuPont, and Corteva, who agreed to pay $1.19 billion into a fund that will be used to remove PFAS from public drinking water systems.
Then, on June 28, 2023, the U.S. branch of Belgian chemicals company Solvay (SOLB.BR) reached a $393-million settlement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) for claims linked to drinking water pollution caused by one of its plants. Those settlement funds will be used to test for, filter, and clean up pollution from forever chemicals near the company’s southern New Jersey plant. Settlement terms call for Solvay to pay $75 million to NJDEP for Natural Resource Damages (NRDs), $100 million to fund NJDEP PFAS remediation projects in areas of New Jersey near the company’s plant, and to put aside an additional $214 million for water and soil testing, and additional remediation around the plant.
These settlements represent a solid first step in holding these companies accountable for repeatedly exposing nearly every American to massive quantities of these chemicals known to cause cancers, endocrine disruption, and a host of other harmful conditions. But they are merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of providing justice to those harmed by their actions. Thousands of lawsuits remain pending against these companies for the injuries and damages they’ve caused the individuals that were exposed to these forever chemicals, including but not limited to firefighters forced to work with forever-chemical-containing firefighting foams in the workplace.
If you believe that you have been harmed from exposure to forever chemicals, you should contact an experienced law firm right away to explore your rights.