The Chemours Company, DuPont de Nemours, and Corteva said they have reached an agreement in principle to pay nearly $1.2 billion to resolve all PFAS-related water system pollution claims in the United States, while it also has been reported that 3M has agreed to pay nearly $10 billion over water-related pollution from the forever chemicals.
Bloomberg reported on June 2, 2023, regarding the 3M deal, which would likely keep the company from a federal court trial regarding its role in water pollution. On the same day, Chemours, DuPont, and Corteva revealed their settlement agreement in a statement.
The latter deal states the companies will comprehensively resolve all per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) claims related to drinking water from a defined class of public water systems, which serve a vast majority of the U.S. population. That class of water systems includes those with current detection of PFAS at any level and those that are currently required to monitor for the presence of PFAS under EPA rules.
Chemours, DuPont, and Corteva will contribute the $1.185 billion to a settlement fund, and the contribution rates will be consistent with an agreement reached in January 2021. Chemours will pay nearly $592 million, DuPont about $400 million, and Corteva around $193 million.
The companies said the amounts will be paid within 10 business days following preliminary court approval of the settlement. The settlement is expected to be finalized during the second quarter of 2023 and then will need to be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.
The court will then establish a timetable for notice to class members, hearings, and for those involved to opt out of the settlement.
Water systems owned and operated by the federal government or a state are excluded from the settlement. So are small systems that have not detected PFAS pollution and are not required to monitor it as well as water systems in the lower Cape Fear River Basin of North Carolina, which will only be included upon request, according to the statement.
The companies said if the settlement cannot be finalized and approved and plaintiffs decide to take their claims to court then they will assert their legal defenses in response to the litigation. The companies said they “deny the allegations in the underlying litigation and reserve all legal and factual defenses against such claims if they were litigated to conclusion.”
Massive 3M Settlement
3M is reported to be the largest user of the so-called forever chemicals. The company’s reported settlement would likely keep it out of federal court, where a trial was planned this week in South Carolina.
The Bloomberg report cited anonymous sources regarding the agreement and said the settlements would require board approval. A 3M spokesman said in a statement, “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”
Late in 2022 3M said it would discontinue the use of across its product line by the end of 2025 as well as end the manufacturing of all fluoropolymers, fluorinated fluids, and PFAS-based additive products. PFAS are used in a variety of products, including household items, personal care goods, medical technologies, batteries, phones, automobiles, and airplanes.
A 2021 report by the Environmental Working Group found nearly 30,000 industrial sites across industries are suspected of using PFAS. The report found that more than 200 million people in the U.S. have possibly been exposed to the chemicals through drinking water and that 2,300 communities have confirmed the pollution.
PFAS are linked to numerous health impacts, including cancer and birth defects. Many states including California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have recently taken on the use of PFAS in products as well as PFAS pollution.