Pending lawsuit over tainted water

Pending lawsuit over tainted water

MORGAN COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - The West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority filed a class action lawsuit last year that is pending in federal court against three companies.The suit accuses 3M, Dyneon, and Daikin America of releasing two chemicals into the Tennessee River -- the water source for the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority.

The toxic chemicals called PFOAs and PFOSs are man-made and used to make products water resistant and oil, stain, and grease repellant. Some experts say these chemicals can cause health problems like cancer, immune system issues, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol.

In a statement 3M issued Thursday, they say the company's activities were not only fully permitted but entirely appropriate and the new water advisories do not necessitate any actions from 3M.

We reached out to 3M and got back the following statement:


"3M's activities in connection with these materials were not only fully permitted but entirely appropriate. The new drinking water advisories do not necessitate any action from 3M, as the company exited these chemistries more than a decade ago and has voluntarily helped remediate the chemicals from the environment."

The EPA says long-term exposure to excess amounts of these chemicals in the water can be life-threatening. The chemicals could cause developmental issues to fetuses or infants, cancer and liver damage.

Attorneys for 3M reached out to us earlier with statements on health effects, legal claims and 3M's ongoing collaboration with local regulators.

Vice President and Corporate Medical Director for 3M Carol A. Ley says the following:

Although we support the work of the EPA and other regulators, we believe these advisory levels are overly conservative. We believe that PFOS and PFOA do not present health risks at levels they are typically found in the environment or in human blood. This view is informed by decades of testing our production workers who were exposed to these chemicals at levels that were many times greater than the general population – often over an extended period of time. Those workers show no adverse health effects from PFC exposure.

William Brewer with Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors counsels to 3M. He says the following:

3M's activities in connection with these materials were not only fully permitted but entirely appropriate. In any event, we believe the claims against 3M – and recent actions taken by the water authority – are based upon the mistaken belief that the mere presence of these chemicals equals harm. 3M believes the claims from the water authority lack merit. We are unaware of any harm to personal property or human health due to the mere environmental presence of these materials.The new drinking water advisories and today's announcements do not necessitate any action from 3M, as the company exited these chemistries more than a decade ago and has voluntarily helped remediate the chemicals from the environment.

Acting Site Manager in Decatur Robin Higgs says the following:

Decatur has been a home to 3M for more than 50 years. We will continue to work cooperatively the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, EPA, the Alabama Department of Public Health, and other stakeholders to research and remediate these chemicals – and hope others who contribute to their presence in the environment will do the same.

The case is still in the procedural phase, and no court date has been set.

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