This past June, 3M Company (3M), an American multinational conglomerate in the industry of worker safety, healthcare, and consumer goods, officially agreed to pay up to $12.5 billion in a settlement over the
contamination of many U.S. public drinking water systems with per-and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) aka, "forever chemicals." PFAS are described as "forever chemicals" because they don't degrade naturally in the environment. Studies have linked PFAS to a variety of health problems, including liver and immune-system damage and some cancers. Over the years, the dangerous chemicals have also been detected in drinking water nationwide.
As mentioned, 3M is expected to pay up to $12.5 billion in settlement payouts over 13 years to resolve claims that so-called forever chemicals it manufactured for decades have polluted drinking water supplies across the U.S. This deal will resolve any current and future claims by municipal water authorities over per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The PFAS chemicals were developed to be used in a variety of consumer products like nonstick, water- and grease-resistant products such as clothing and cookware. However, the claims surrounding this case more so focused on those PFAS-containing foams, which are typically used to extinguish fires at military bases and airports.
The Official Settlement Pay Out is TBD
According to the agreement, 3M is set to pay a minimum of $10.5 billion and a maximum of $12.5 billion. However, the official number depends on how much PFAS is actually found in the water systems that have yet to be tested. According to the company, the pact will cover funding for present and future claims from drinking water providers that may detect that PFAS sullied the drinking water supplies at any level.
However, this deal will only resolve a portion of what analysts have estimated could be tens of billions of dollars in potential liabilities stemming from 3M's legacy of manufacturing PFAS chemicals. 3M’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike Roman, said in a statement that this deal was "an important step forward for 3M." Stating that these actions will build on their decisions to phase out PFOA and PFOS, further invest in state-of-the-art water filtration technology in our chemical manufacturing operations, as well as sticking to their plans in halting all PFAS production by the end of 2025.
Once Settled, How Will the Money Be Allocated?
The settlement will need to be approved by the judge in Charleston, South Carolina; however, when approved, the company said it plans to take a $10.3 billion pre-tax charge. The money will be allocated to the water systems in two phases. The more than 5,000 systems that have already detected PFAS will be paid during the first phase. Then in the second phase, it will involve systems that will test for chemicals in the future. According to attorney Scott Summy, this is the largest drinking water settlement in American history. This result will save millions of Americans from illnesses related to drinking water contaminated with PFAS.
If you have been affected by forever chemicals in your water system, we may be able to help you. For more information regarding the 3M settlement, or if you have questions about your claims case, speak to a Morgan & Morgan attorney. In order to contact a Morgan & Morgan attorney, you will need to complete our free, no-obligation case evaluation form.