3M Agrees to $10.3 Billion PFAS Settlement

by | Jun 23, 2023

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3M office buildings

(Credit: 3M)

3M said it has entered into a $10.3 billion agreement to settle lawsuits regarding PFAS contamination in water supplies.

The resolution will support PFAS remediation for public water systems that provide drinking water to the vast majority of the United States. The record $10.3 billion settlement will be payable over 13 years and is subject to court approval.

The agreement resolves current and future drinking water claims by public water suppliers related to PFOA, PFOS, and all other PFAS. Additionally, 3M will provide funding for U.S. public water systems for PFAS treatment technologies without the need for further litigation. The company will also provide funding for eligible water suppliers that may detect PFAS in the future.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are chemicals that resist grease, oil, water, and heat and are used to produce a multitude of products ranging from household goods to airplane parts. The so-called “forever” chemicals do not easily break down in the environment and are linked to many health issues.

Cleanup of contamination is an extensive and costly process as well. A recent study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency found that it could cost between $14 billion and $28 billion over the next two decades to remove PFAS from wastewater streams in the state.

3M is one of the largest producers of PFAS and has been linked to thousands of lawsuits over several decades due to contamination from the chemicals. The settlement was first reported on June 2, 2023, just as a federal trial was set to start in South Carolina. As a result, those proceedings were delayed.

At the same time the Chemours Company, DuPont de Nemours, and Corteva made public a nearly $1.2 billion settlement of their own. 3M has said it will end all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025.

3M said the agreement is not an admission of liability, and if the agreement is not approved by the courts or certain terms are not fulfilled it is prepared to continue to defend itself in the litigation. The company also said it will continue to address other PFAS litigation as necessary, which includes lawsuits with individuals and state and local governments.

3M said it expects to record a pre-tax charge of approximately $10.3 billion in the second quarter of this year, and additional details will be included in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said the strength of its business model and strong cash flow capability will allow it to meet the terms of the agreement and other contractual obligations.

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