3M signs nearly $100 million settlement with Decatur, Morgan County and Decatur Utilities

“Decatur, Alabama has been a sacrifice zone for the chemical industry for far too long, and that burden is not fair to put on the backs of all of the people of North Alabama,”
Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 10:19 AM CDT
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - 3M has officially signed a $98.4 million settlement.

According to court documents, the settlement was signed only weeks after it was discussed amongst municipal leaders for Decatur, Morgan County and Decatur Utilities.

On Oct. 19 municipal leaders for Decatur, Morgan County and Decatur Utilities announced that settlement agreements have been reached through mediation with several companies.

Attorney Barney Lovelace issued the following statement regarding the settlement:

“We received today the Settlement Agreement signed by 3M. Officials from the City of Decatur, Morgan County, and Decatur Utilities signed the Agreement yesterday. We are very pleased to have this settlement fully executed.

We are eager for the remediation work required by the settlement to get underway so our community can have confidence and take comfort knowing that any existing issues will be addressed and cleaned up and that a system of oversight is in place to mitigate any potential environmental issues in the future. 3M has been a good community partner and impacted this community in many positive ways. This has been a very difficult situation for all of us and we very much appreciate their continued commitment to our community for years to come.

This is a great day for the City of Decatur and all of Morgan County.”

3M has been accused of dumping PFAs chemicals into Morgan County waterways. 3M, Daikin, Toray, BFI and Synargo reached a $98.4 million settlement agreement on Monday, according to the City of Decatur.

This is how the money will be split among the parties:

  • $9.2 million reimbursement for past PFAS costs
  • $7.0 million or future sludge disposal costs for DU
  • $25 million payment to Decatur, Morgan County and Decatur Utilities
  • $22.2 million payment to cap Cells 2-11 of the Decatur-Morgan County Regional Landfill
  • $35 million for new recreational and ball fields to replace the Aquadome complex

In addition to the defined settlement amounts, the agreement requires that 3M will pay the cost to investigate the extent of contamination of PFAS in groundwater at the Decatur-Morgan County Regional Landfill.

Decatur City Council President Jacob Ladner says this is a really good day for the city. Ladner says the settlement is a fresh start for Decatur, and the future generations to come.

“We need to make sure that it does enough for remediation, environmental cleanup, and also there’s some quality of life issues that are good for the city and the county as we move forward,” said Ladner.

Tennessee Riverkeeper is a key player in the lawsuits and founder David Whiteside says he’s relieved and pleased with the settlement.

“Decatur, Alabama has been a sacrifice zone for the chemical industry for far too long, and that burden is not fair to put on the backs of all of the people of North Alabama. 3M keeps the profit and the people keep the pollution,” said Whiteside.

Whiteside says this legal settlement is historic for Decatur.

“It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Alabama because it’s right here on the river. But in order for Decatur to reach it’s full potential, they have to force these big businesses, these powerful corporations to do the right thing, to comply with the law, and to clean up their mess,” said Whiteside.

The proposed settlement amounts for Decatur Utilities are related to the disposal of sludge from the wastewater treatment plant. They are not related to drinking water supplied by Decatur Utilities to customers in the area.

Decatur City Council and Morgan County Commission will each hold a special meeting on Tuesday, October 26 at 6:00 p.m. at Ingalls Harbor Pavilion in Decatur. The purpose of the meeting is to consider the settlement with the 3M Company and settlements in other similar cases.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management released a statement Tuesday regarding the proposed 3M PFAS lawsuit settlement.

“ADEM welcomes a proposed settlement between the parties. At this time, ADEM has not had the opportunity to review the settlement. However, it is ADEM’s understanding that this settlement will build on the goals visualized in the 2020 Interim Consent Order executed between ADEM and 3M,” said ADEM.

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