The state of Wisconsin has filed a lawsuit against 18 companies for PFAS contamination.
The lawsuit says the manufacturers and chemical companies knew or should have known that the intended use of their products would lead to dangerous impacts and that their actions led to the contamination of the water, property, and natural resources in the state. The lawsuit was filed by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and the Wisconsin Department of Justice in Dane County.
Defendants include 3M, Tyco Fire Products, DuPont de Nemours, Dynax, and BASF. The state says it began preparing legal action against companies responsible for PFAS contamination last year, following recommendations from the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council, which was created in 2019.
The state is seeking to recover all costs associated with the contamination; the lawsuit says Wisconsin will need to spend billions of dollars to do so. It also wants “restoration and loss-of-use damages, natural-resource damages, and the costs of investigating, abating, containing, preventing, treating, removing, and remediating PFAS contamination in Wisconsin.”
“We’re taking immediate action to address PFAS in Wisconsin by ensuring accountability and responsibility for polluters and making sure Wisconsinites don’t have to foot the bill to clean up the messes that others have made,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers says.
Evers says all of Wisconsin has been impacted by PFAS, especially in terms of water pollution.
3M told the Associated Press that it acted responsibly and will “vigorously defend its record of environmental stewardship.” BASF said the company doesn’t believe the lawsuit has much merit.
In March 2022, Wisconsin filed a different lawsuit against Tyco Fire Products and Johnson Controls for violations of the state’s hazardous substance spills law. That suit stems from pollution from the Fire Technology Center in Marinette.
PFAS, also known as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are human-made chemicals that are used in a range of products, including non-stick cookware, fast food packaging, stain-resistant sprays, and firefighting foam. The chemicals do not naturally break down in the environment.
In October 2021, the EPA released a three-year strategy to address pollution from the chemicals. The roadmap focuses on new research, preventing further pollution, and remediation. The agency recently added five more PFAS that are subject to reporting requirements.
Starbucks and Restaurant Brands International, which owns Burger King and Popeyes, recently said they are eliminating the chemicals in their food packaging. Apparel brands and retailers were graded on their PFAS use earlier this year in a report by NRDC, Fashion FWD, and US PIRG Education Fund.