Pleasanton is settling a lawsuit against 3M Co., a chemical manufacturing company, related to contamination of the city’s drinking water after the company announced a nationwide resolution agreement with hundreds of other water providers.
The settlement comes after years of litigation to resolve lawsuits from cities like Pleasanton and other water suppliers claiming that the company’s products made with PFAS chemicals, otherwise known as forever chemicals, contributed to the contamination of their water.
“(The) defendants designed, manufactured, marketed, distributed, sold, and/or assumed or acquired liabilities for the manufacture and/or sale of fluorosurfactant products with the knowledge that these toxic compounds would be released into the environment during the intended use of the fluorosurfactant products, even when used as directed and intended by defendants,” the Pleasanton lawsuit against 3M state.
The lawsuit, filed on April 15, 2021 by the city, states that because Pleasanton continues to be plagued by PFAS contamination, which caused the city to shut down one of its groundwater wells and forces city staff to have to closely monitor its water, 3M and other listed defendants needed to pay for any past and future costs of treating and maintaining its water supply.
It also stated that the city was seeking “damages and restitution for the diminution of value of (Pleasanton’s water facilities), punitive damages, as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.”
According to a press release from the company, 3M, based in Maplewood, Minn., will pay at least $10.3 billion over the next 13 years to settle the lawsuits and provide funding that will help the water suppliers cover the costs of filtering the PFAS chemicals.
“This is an important step forward for 3M, which builds on our actions that include our announced exit of PFOA and PFOS manufacturing more than 20 years ago, our more recent investments in state-of-the-art water filtration technology in our chemical manufacturing operations and our announcement that we will exit all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025,” said 3M chairman and CEO Mike Roman in the June 22 press release.
In regards to Pleasanton’s lawsuit, which was filed after authorization by the City Council during a closed-session meeting on Feb. 2, 2021, it is still unsure how much money Pleasanton will receive, when the city will see its settlement money and how it will be used.
“There is a rather lengthy court-supervised settlement process that will take place,” Pleasanton city attorney Dan Sodergren told the Weekly. “So, at this time, I can’t speculate on how much of the settlement the city will receive and to what specific purpose it will be put.”
Sodergren said he brought the matter to the council’s attention at the time because he was aware of how many other district’s were involved in the litigation, including the Zone 7 Water Agency, which also filed a lawsuit against 3M and is part of the settlement litigation.
“Settlement amounts for any individual public water supplier have not been determined and will be subject to approval by the presiding judge in this case,” Zone 7 Water Agency General Manager Valerie Pryor told the Weekly. “When we have further details about the status of the settlement, we will provide that information publicly.”
The East Bay Municipal Utility District, a water provider for much of the San Ramon Valley, is another local agency that filed a similar lawsuit against 3M.