3M to pay $850 mil­lion to set­tle dis­posal law­suit

China Daily (Canada) - - WORLD -

MIN­NEAPO­LIS -- 3M Co has agreed to pay the state of Min­nesota $850 mil­lion to set­tle a ma­jor case al­leg­ing the man­u­fac­turer dam­aged nat­u­ral re­sources and con­tam­i­nated ground­wa­ter by dis­pos­ing of chem­i­cals over decades, Min­nesota’s at­tor­ney gen­eral an­nounced on Tues­day.

The state was seek­ing $5 bil­lion from Maple­wood, Min­nesota-based 3M in a case that fo­cused on the com­pany’s dis­posal of chem­i­cals once used to make Scotch­gard fab­ric pro­tec­tor and other prod­ucts. The law­suit, filed in 2010, al­leged 3M dam­aged Min­nesota’s nat­u­ral re­sources, in­clud­ing more than 100 miles of the Mis­sis­sippi River. The state also said the chem­i­cals con­tam­i­nated drink­ing water, harmed wildlife and posed a threat to hu­man health.

The com­pany de­nies it did any­thing wrong, in­sist­ing it was act­ing legally at the time. The set­tle­ment did not re­quire an ad­mis­sion of li­a­bil­ity, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Lori Swan­son said.

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

The set­tle­ment was an­nounced Tues­day af­ter jury se­lec­tion was halted as the trial was set to be­gin. Swan­son said she be­lieves it is the largest en­vi­ron­men­tal case in state his­tory.

Swan­son said 3M will pay the state in one lump sum within the next 15 days. It will go into a fund ded­i­cated to projects that will clean up and safe­guard drink­ing water in the eastern sub­urbs of St. Paul. De­tails on how the money will be used are still be­ing worked out, but it could go to help home­own­ers with con­tam­i­nated wells, or help mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties with sus­tain­able drink­ing water and treat­ment plans.

Fund­ing would also go to­ward habi­tat restora­tion and re­cre­ation such as fish­ing piers, trails or wet­lands.

The law­suit was cen­tered on 3M’s dis­posal of per­flu­o­ro­chem­i­cals, or PFCs, and their com­pounds. The com­pany be­gan pro­duc­ing PFCs in the 1950s and legally dis­posed of them in land­fills for decades. Along with Scotch­gard, the chem­i­cals were used in fire re­tar­dants, paints, non­stick cook­ware and other prod­ucts.

The com­pany stopped mak­ing PFCs in 2002 af­ter ne­go­ti­at­ing with the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency. But in 2004, trace amounts of the chem­i­cals were found in ground­wa­ter at 3M dump­ing sites east of St. Paul.

The state and 3M reached a deal three years later re­quir­ing the com­pany to spend mil­lions

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The Bol­ly­wood-themed 85th Le­mon Fes­ti­val takes place in Men­ton, France, on Tues­day.

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