A lawsuit accusing 3M and related companies of contaminating the Tennessee River with PFOA and PFOS chemicals has been filed by 23 plaintiffs who allege the industrial pollution caused them to develop cancer and other serious health problems.
The federal lawsuit seeks class-action status for customers of the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority, which provides drinking water to more than 10,000 residents of Alabama’s Morgan and Lawrence Counties.
In addition to 3M, the lawsuit names as defendants 3M subsidiary Dyneon, Daikin America, and the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority, which sold the contaminated water. The plaintiffs allege the defendants were negligent and reckless in their actions.
3M and the other corporate defendants used the PFC family of chemicals as water-proof and non-stick surfactants in consumer products such as Teflon cookware and Scotchguard. The company operated a plant 13 miles from the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority’s Tennessee River intake in Decatur, Alabama.
“The EPA and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management have identified Defendants’ facilities as sources of PFOA and PFOS contamination in the Tennessee River in and around Decatur, Alabama, including surface water, porewater, sediments, and fish,” the lawsuit alleges. “The primary source is the 3M facility, with the high levels of POFA and PFOS in groundwater migrating into the Tennessee River.”
According to Huntsville, Alabama’s WHNT Channel 19, the plaintiffs suffer from kidney cancer, thyroid disease, and ulcerative colitis – conditions that have been linked to PFOA and PFOS exposure.
The lawsuit comes after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a health advisory last year warning that the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority’s water contained concentrations of the chemicals at levels potentially toxic to human health.
The utility also issued its own warning to customers, urging them to avoid drinking the water until better filtrations systems were installed – a process that took several months to complete, WHNT reported.
Daikin previously settled a similar lawsuit with the water authority for $5 million. The settlement covered the $4 million cost of the improved water filtration system and about half a million dollars in restitution to water customers who paid their water bills but could not drink the water.