Michigan files lawsuit against 17 defendants for PFAS contamination

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LANSING, MI. (WILX) - Michigan has filed a lawsuit against 17 defendants including 3M and DuPont for PFAS contamination.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel was joined by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, along with Michigan Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Director Liesl Clark in Lansing to make the announcement.

The lawsuit is the first legal action taken by the state against PFAS manufacturers, according to the release.

“We bring this action today on behalf of the people of Michigan,” said Nessel. “It is our responsibility to protect our residents and our state’s natural resources and property by preventing and abating hazards to public health, safety, welfare and the environment – and by placing the responsibility for this massive undertaking with those responsible for creating the problem.”

The lawsuit was filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

“Since taking office, I’ve been deliberate and focused on protecting our Great Lakes and cleaning up our drinking water,” said Whitmer. “Michigan has been established as a national leader in identifying, monitoring and addressing contamination caused by PFAS. As such, we must continue to protect communities all across our state from harmful PFAS chemicals by holding polluters accountable. Future generations of Michiganders are counting on us to get to work today.”

The lawsuit states that the defendants knew and deliberately concealed the dangers of polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS and often referred to as “forever chemicals.”

It states the defendants "withheld scientific evidence, and intentionally, knowingly and recklessly sold, distributed, released, transported, supplied, arranged for disposal or treatment, and handled and used PFAS and PFAS-containing materials in Michigan in a way that they knew would contaminate natural resources and expose Michigan residents to harm."

Here is the list of the companies named in the lawsuit:
• Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co. – a/k/a 3M;
• DuPont, including its historic corporate self/identity/entity, as well as its post-merger-and-spinoff self – DuPont de Nemours Inc., a/k/a “New DuPont”;
• The Chemours Co., a spinoff of DuPont, and its subsidiary (The Chemours Co. FC LLX);
• Corteva Inc., another DuPont spinoff which was part of Defendant Dow DuPont;
• Dyneon LLC;
• Archroma entities;
• Arkema entities;
• AGC Chemicals Americas Inc.;
• Daikin Industries entities;
• Solvay Specialty Polymers, USA LLC; and
• Asahi Kasei Plastics North America Inc.

“Chemical companies have known for decades that PFAS compounds don’t break down, build up in the human body, and exposures can lead to illness, yet they never warned Michigan consumers or manufacturers of the unintended consequences associated with using these ‘forever’ chemicals,” said Clark. “There is ample evidence that PFAS represents a clear and present danger to Michigan’s drinking water, our economy and our quality of life. Michigan deserves fair compensation from the chemical companies that profited from the sale of PFAS chemicals in our state.”

Nessel spoke at a press conference preceding the release and said that the state contends the defendants knew PFAS are toxic and pose substantial health and environmental risks but hid this information from the state and its residents. She said that specifically, the companies neglected to tell people what was in the products, suppressed the scientific evidence that the chemicals were hazardous, discharged the chemicals into the environment and distributed the chemicals all over the world, including into Michigan, knowing that PFAS would contaminate natural resources and threaten public health.

“Without widespread action to investigate, remediate and restore the resources in Michigan impacted by PFAS contamination, the presence and migration of PFAS in our state’s natural resources and property will continue unchecked and indefinitely, threatening natural resources, property and our residents,” concluded Nessel. “We are committed to ensuring that the companies responsible for unleashing PFAS on our state will stand up to their legal obligations and responsibilities. Their reprehensible conduct demands Gov. Whitmer and I take every legal and regulatory action necessary to protect the people and natural resources of our state.”

Nessel listed the side effects related to exposure to PFAS:
• Decreased fertility;
• Pregnancy-induced hypertension and/or preeclampsia
• Liver damage;
• Thyroid disease;
• Problems with cholesterol levels;
• Immune system problems; and
• Increased likelihood of cancer, especially kidney and testicular cancers.

Click here to read the full complaint.

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