Apr 11, 2023

"Forever Chemical" PFAS Producers Reach $1.18B Settlement, Counties Should Benefit

PFAS producers DuPont de Nemours Inc. and others recently agreed to establish a $1.18 billion fund meant to absolve their liability in most of the United States.

In the latest news surrounding around PFAS chemicals, also referred to as forever chemicals, DuPont de Nemours Inc. and two of its spin-offs have agreed to a $1.18 billion dollar settlement, absolving them of liability in most cases within the United States. According to the Associated Press,

DuPont de Nemours Inc., The Chemours Co. and Corteva Inc. said they would establish a fund to compensate water providers for contamination with the chemicals used widely in nonstick, water- and grease-resistant products, as well as some firefighting foams. . . .

The companies said in a joint statement the proposed settlement would "comprehensively resolve all PFAS-related drinking water claims of a defined class of public water systems that serve the vast majority of the United States population."

The timing of the settlement helps the companies avoid a trial set to start this week in Florida. There are also rumors that 3M, another chemical company responsible for a large volume of the PFAS produced in the United States, is also close to announcing a similar $10 billion settlement.

Impact on Maryland

Last week Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown joined other state AGs, local governments, and private water system operators in two lawsuits claiming that 3M, DuPont, and others caused PFAS contamination of the State's environment through multiple pathways and put Maryland residents’ health at risk. The two complaints seek to recover damages and costs related to the investigation, cleanup, restoration, and treatment of its natural resources from PFAS contamination. Both Baltimore City and Prince George's County are involved in similar litigation.

It is currently unclear how much money Maryland's counties can expect to receive. The DuPont settlement first has to be approved by the judge overseeing the case, and then a timetable will be set for notifying water providers that could be impacted. By some estimates, as many as four thousand providers could be eligible, meaning if the settlement was divided equally, each claimant would receive roughly just under $300,000. Almost universally, those suing DuPont de Nemours Inc., The Chemours Co., and Corteva Inc. agree that the settlement represents a small fraction of what it will take to clean up the damage from PFAS chemicals.

Background on PFAS

PFAS or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), i.e. "forever chemicals," were at one time widely used in firefighting foam and nonstick surfaces. In recent years, research has come to light indicating that these chemicals have serious negative health effects. Unlike other chemicals, PFAS takes longer to naturally break down and therefore remains in the environment for years. Today almost all people have PFAS within their blood and body. In March, the EPA, for the first time, proposed national PFAS standards for drinking water.

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Read more about Maryland's AG suing DuPont, 3M, and others.

PFAS producers DuPont de Nemours Inc. and others recently agreed to establish a $1.18 billion fund meant to absolve their liability in most of the United States. Impact on Maryland Background on PFAS