ST. PAUL, Minn. (WAFF) - The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and 3M announced Friday an Interim Consent Order resolving polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) discharges at 3M’s Decatur facility.
“3M takes pride in being part of the Decatur community for nearly 60 years, and the company values its role as a good neighbor and steward of the environment,” said Michelle Howell, 3M Decatur plant manager.
“During the last 12 months, we have identified areas where we can do more and better, and we’re committed to doing our part in our operations moving forward.”
With the oversight of ADEM, 3M will implement changes that will meet or exceed operational best practices for PFAS management. Changes include the design and installation of additional state-of-the-art treatment technologies to help prevent PFAS from entering the environment. 3M will also implement a comprehensive water minimization program that has the potential to reduce the volume of the 3M Decatur facility’s water consumption.
The Interim Consent Order builds upon 3M’s existing commitment to identify, investigate and perform appropriate remediation of legacy contamination of soil and groundwater at sites where materials from 3M’s facility are located. To date, 3M has invested more than $100 million to address PFAS at the Decatur facility, including a significant cap and containment project to manage PFAS-impacted soil and groundwater, and the installation of a granular activated carbon system to remove PFAS from ground water.
In a Friday press release, ADEM Director Lance LeFleur issued his thoughts on the Interim Consent Order.
“This interim consent order is the most far-reaching and significant enforcement action to date taken in regard to PFAS in the country,” ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said.
“It protects the public from both past and future contaminations, and puts Alabama ahead of the game in regulating these harmful compounds. This agreement expands ADEM’s ability to control PFAS beyond what would otherwise be available.”
“We appreciate the fact that 3M has agreed to take all the actions necessary to take responsibility after decades of pollution,” LeFleur said.
“ADEM will hold 3M accountable through rigorous oversight and enforcement, to ensure the company meets all of its requirements under this order. The number one goal is to protect the public’s safety and health, and protect the state’s land, water and air.”
Director LeFleur emphasized that “3M will pay what it takes to fix permanently whatever PFAS problems it created, in addition to the requirements for investigations and research on any effects of PFAS on public health and the environment.”
3M will assume all costs of assessments, remedial actions and research associated with the consent order including any costs incurred by ADEM in overseeing 3M’s action.
LeFleur said the interim nature of the consent order means that while it is enforceable immediately, “it is not the end of the process.” Additional requirements can be placed on 3M based on the data collected.
Future penalties will be based on the information gathered. In the interim, penalties will be assessed with increasing severity if any 3M obligations in the consent order are not accomplished within required time frames.
Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling commented on Friday’s announcement in the below statement:
“I am in favor of anything that improves the Decatur environment, and I commend ADEM and 3M for securing this consent order. The fact there is a plan and an enforceable commitment to clean up the sites and prevent further contamination is good news for the city. I look forward to studying the order in more detail and working with ADEM and 3M to take these important steps that will enhance our community.” Bowling said.