3M reaches $10.3 billion settlement over ‘eternally chemical substances’ in public water techniques : NPR


3M has reached a $10 billion settlement over “eternally chemical substances” in consuming water. NPR’s Debbie Elliott talks with Scott Summy, an lawyer for water techniques that sued the chemical maker.


3M has reached a settlement over what have been known as eternally chemical substances. The chemical producer has agreed to pay at the very least $10.3 billion to settle lawsuits over probably dangerous compounds that do not degrade simply. 3M is a number one maker of PFAS – chemical substances which have contaminated lots of the nation’s public consuming water techniques, partially due to issues like firefighting foam.

SCOTT SUMMY: They offered it to airports and hearth coaching services throughout the nation, they usually instructed them that they wanted to be coaching with it. They usually did. They usually educated with it month-to-month. They might set one thing deliberately on hearth after which use the froth to place it out. And since these chemical substances actually reside eternally and don’t break down, these compounds get into the bottom and into the groundwater.

ELLIOTT: Scott Summy is without doubt one of the attorneys representing the water techniques that sued 3M and different producers. I requested him how his shoppers have reacted to this settlement.

SUMMY: So the water techniques that I characterize are positioned throughout the nation. They serve public consuming water. However sadly, like many public water techniques throughout the nation, they’re going through PFAS within the consuming water. They usually’ve been very involved about it as a result of the EPA has put out proposed consuming water requirements that can take impact in a number of years. And the way in which to adjust to them is these water techniques have to put in costly water therapy with a purpose to take away the chemical substances earlier than the water is served to the general public. So upon listening to about this settlement, clearly the shoppers are very completely satisfied as a result of they have been very involved about how they are going to fund this therapy. And this settlement being the biggest consuming water settlement in American historical past will go a great distance in serving to them fund that therapy.

ELLIOTT: So PFAS have been linked to well being issues starting from liver injury to some cancers. Do you assume this settlement goes far sufficient? Is it going to be sufficient cash to repair the issue?

SUMMY: Clearly, to take away PFAS from public water techniques throughout the nation is an enormously costly endeavor. Sadly for 3M, they’re the biggest market participant amongst all of the producers. However the issue is, is that their market cap is barely about 55 billion and this settlement could have them pay as much as 12.5 billion. And so this can be a enormous chunk. It is clearly a compromise. However for our shoppers, it is – you recognize, it is higher than the choice of making an attempt to chase them for the following 10 years in a courtroom.

ELLIOTT: You realize, is there a tradeoff there, although? Scientists are discovering these chemical substances in every single place now – in meals, in wildlife, in people. A trial would have introduced form of better consciousness to the issue.

SUMMY: Sure, however trials are costly. They’re dangerous. And, you recognize, for my shoppers – they are not – you recognize, the cities and cities throughout America – they are not within the enterprise of litigating. They’re within the enterprise of working their cities and serving water. They usually actually simply needed to discover a solution to get help in getting them therapy for his or her consuming water. Now, do not forget, within the multidistrict litigation the place all these instances have been pending, there are a lot of, many, many instances left. There are literally thousands of private harm instances. There are lawyer basic fits. There are property injury instances. So there very properly could also be trials coming.

ELLIOTT: So that is only the start.

SUMMY: That is the start.

ELLIOTT: Legal professional Scott Summy. His shoppers gained a $10 billion settlement settlement from 3M over consuming water contamination involving the chemical substances PFAS.

SUMMY: Thanks for having me.

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