Feb 27, 2018

3M Settlement Addresses Groundwater Contamination

The $850 million settlement will go towards Minnesota water quality improvement projects

3M settlement address groundwater concerns

3M Co. agreed to pay $850 million to fund Minnesota water quality projects in a settlement between 3M and the state of Minnesota. The state of Minnesota filed suit against 3M in 2010, nearly a decade ago, over per- and polyfluoralkyl substance (PFAS) groundwater contamination in the Minneapolis suburbs of Oakdale, Woodbury and Lake Elmo. 

Officials from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Pollution Control Agency will act as trustees of the funds, which will be used for water quality improvements in PFAS impacted areas. According to The Star Tribune, the first priority will be to address PFAS contaminated water systems, including approximately 650 wells. This will involve digging deeper wells and installing home filtration systems. The funds also will aim to protect and improve the environment by increasing habitats and removing tainted sediment.

“We think the settlement will help solve a problem for Minnesota. It’s a problem that’s been a long time in the making for many decades,” said Attorney General Lori Swanson. “These chemicals as I mentioned were put into the ground and we are very hopeful that this settlement can help fix that.”

3M, according to Minnesota Public Radio, did not view PFAS and perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) as a public health threat, especially after a Minnesota Department of Health report found no unusually high rates of cancer or adverse birth outcomes in the impacted area. 

“While we have never believed there is a PFC-related health issue, this agreement allows us to move past litigation and work together with the state on activities and projects to benefit the environment and our communities,” said John Banovetz, 3M chief technology officer and senior vice president.