3M, DuPont Sued Over Firefighting Foam Chemicals

The EPA identified high levels of water contamination linked to PFAs.

3 M Mn Chem Ap
AP file

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — Seven companies have been named in a lawsuit related to the contamination of a West Virginia city’s water supply from firefighting foam.

The lawsuit filed by Charles Town attorney Stephen Skinner seeks damages for exposing Martinsburg residents to chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAs. Among the defendants in the lawsuit filed last month in federal court were 3M Co., DuPont Co. and Chemours.

Last year, the Air Force agreed to reimburse $4.9 million to Martinsburg for expenses related to the 2016 cleanup of hazardous chemicals from the city's water supply. A statement at the time from U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said the source of the contamination was firefighting foam used by the Air National Guard at the Eastern Regional Airport to put out oil-based fires.

The Environmental Protection Agency identified high levels of contamination linked to PFAs and mandated that additional water filtration systems be installed at a treatment plant, Capito's release said.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages and medical monitoring, alleges negligence, battery, failure to warn, and design defect. Skinner said the companies knew the materials were dangerous and that the contamination was preventable.

“Chemical companies have known for decades that PFA compounds don’t break down and that they accumulate in the human body,” Skinner said in a news release. “Those exposures can lead to illness.”

In a statement, 3M said it “acted responsibly” in the manufacture and sales of firefighting foam and “will vigorously defend its record of environmental stewardship.”

Messages left with DuPont and Chemours were not immediately returned Thursday.

An order filed Monday will transfer the lawsuit to federal court in South Carolina, where dozens of other similar lawsuits were sent, news outlets reported.

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