(Bloomberg) -- 3M Co., DuPont de Nemours Inc. and other makers of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have agreed to pay more than $100 million to resolve a Georgia city’s lawsuit claiming the chemicals polluted its drinking water, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Rome, Georgia settled with 3M, DuPont, DuPont spinoff Chemours Co. and other PFAS makers on May 30. The city sued the companies in Floyd County Superior Court over PFAS were used as stain-proofing agents in carpeting produced in local plants. The settlement comes on the eve of trial in the case, which had been scheduled to begin Monday.
The city was seeking to recoup nearly $100 million it spent building a reverse-osmosis system to clear the chemicals from the Oostanaula and Etowah Rivers. The city sought more than $300 million in damages over the pollution, according to court filings.
The Environmental Protection Agency has said PFAS can cause developmental delays in children and increase cancer risks. But the companies dispute those findings and maintain that PFAS are safe.
Sean Lynch, a spokesman for St. Paul, Minnesota–based 3M, confirmed the manufacturer had reached a deal in the Rome case. “3M has reached an agreement on the principal terms of a settlement,” Lynch said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to fulfill our PFAS remediation commitments and address litigation by defending ourselves in court or through negotiated resolutions, all as appropriate.”
Dan Turner, a DuPont spokesman, also confirmed the manufacturer participated in the confidential settlements, but wouldn’t comment on the amount. Chemours representatives didn’t immediately respond to an email for comment on Thursday.
The Rome trial would have started the same day as the first federal trial over PFAS, which is set to begin Monday in US District Court in Charleston, South Carolina. That case, by the city of Stuart, Florida, is one of thousands of PFAS suits consolidated in that court.
Legal experts say the outcome in the Stuart case could help determine how much 3M ultimately may have to pay to resolve the PFAS litigation.
Researchers have found PFAS — an industrial product used since the 1950s in products ranging from computer chips and non-stick frying pans to cosmetics – never breaks down naturally and has to be removed from waterways to landfills or destroyed by burning.
The Georgia accord adds to 3M’s burgeoning PFAS exposure, which some analysts estimate at about $143 billion. The largest maker of PFAS already has paid close to $1 billion over the last four years to resolve state’s and cities’ claims PFAS has fouled groundwaters and waterways.
State and municipal officials argue 3M and other PFAS makers knew for decades that the compounds posed a health risk, but continued to reap billions of dollars in sales without warning the public about the dangers.
The Georgia case is The City of Rome Georgia v. 3M Company, No. 19CV02405JFL003, Superior Court of Floyd County, Georgia (Rome)
(Updates with company statements, background)
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