3M will pay $ 98.4 million to settle lawsuits over the contamination of its chemical plant along the Tennessee River in northern Alabama under an agreement announced Tuesday.
The deal, reached through court-ordered mediation with local government agencies, 3M and other companies, would fund past and future clean-up work and fund efforts to find additional pollution from per- and polyfluoroalkyl or PFAS in the region. Most of the money, $ 35 million, will go to replace a recreation complex built on top of a contaminated landfill.
The City of Decatur, Morgan County and Decatur Utilities have yet to approve the settlement. A public meeting was scheduled for next week on the deal.
3M said it is also resolving a lawsuit involving Tennessee Riverkeeper, an environmental organization, and other disputes involving pollution from PFAS, a substance that has been used in products around the world since the 1950s, according to the Centers. for Disease Control and Prevention. The Decatur plant has been a major manufacturer of chemicals for decades.
The chemicals are used in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, water-repellent clothing, cosmetics, and fire-fighting foams. They can cause problems including an increased risk of cancer, decreased vaccine response in children, increased cholesterol levels, increased blood pressure and decreased birth weight in children, according to the doctor. CDC.
The lawsuits demanded that 3M and other companies dumped industrial waste containing PFAS, which then contaminated the river and many sites in Morgan County. The substance is no longer manufactured in the United States.
Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling said the deal would help address long-standing issues.
“This bylaw will fund improvements that will make the environment in Decatur and Morgan County healthier. We are delighted that 3M is funding the development of an alternative recreation center that improves the quality of life for the entire city,” said he said in a press release. .
Michelle Howell, 3M Plant Manager at Decatur, said the company “will continue to take collaborative action for the communities where we live and work, our employees, their friends and families.”
3M settled a lawsuit filed by the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority for $ 35 million in 2019, the Decatur Daily reported. The water supply system alleged that PFAS contaminated its drinking water after entering the Tennessee River from a landfill, groundwater and stormwater runoff.