LANSING, Mich. - The state of Michigan is filing charges against 17 defendants over PFAS contamination, alleging the companies "deliberately" covered up the dangers of the chemical.
Announcing Tuesday afternoon, Attorney General Dana Nessel said the state was taking its first legal action against manufacturers, which include 3M and Dupont, in its effort to mitigate the damage done by the "forever chemicals."
“We bring this action today on behalf of the people of Michigan,” Nessel said in a release. “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.”
Also among the charges, Nessel also said the companies withheld scientific evidence and "intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly sold, distributed, released, transported, supplied, arranged for disposal or treatment, and handled and used PFAS" in a way the companies knew would contaminate the state's environment.
Responding to the charges, a Dupont spokesperson said they were "extremely disappointed" the attorney general had taken the action they believe is "without merit."
"DuPont does not make PFOA, PFOS or GenX. Further, DuPont never manufactured or sold firefighting foam. Across our portfolio, DuPont’s use of other PFAS is a small fraction of the total PFAS used in the world. While our use is extremely small, we’re actively pursuing alternatives to PFAS where possible in our manufacturing processes," read the statement.
"While fulfilling our remediation responsibilities continue to be a priority for DuPont, we are, and have always been, committed to upholding the highest standards for the wellbeing of our employees, our customers and the communities in which we operate, and we will vigorously defend our record of safety, health, and environmental stewardship," it went on to say.
PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals that were manufactured and used in a variety of materials around the world. They are known to be very persistent in the environment and don't break down over time - hence the name "forever chemicals."
Evidence suggests the chemical can lead to adverse health effects in people and animals, not including infant birth weights, effects on the immune system, cancer and damage to the thyroid.
The defendants listed in the charges are:
- Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co. (3M)
- The Chemours Co.
- Corteva Inc.
- Dyneon LLC.
- Archroma entities
- Arkema entities
- AGC Chemicals Americas Inc.
- Daikin Industries entities
- Solvay Specialty Polymers
- Asahi Kasei Plastics North America
Along with Nessel, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Department head of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) chimed in on the announcement.
“Since taking office, I’ve been deliberate and focused on protecting our Great Lakes and cleaning up our drinking water,” Whitmer said. “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 formal complaints contend the defendants knew that PFAS would persist in the environment and didn't degrade, it would accumulate in animals and humans exposed to the chemical, are potential carcinogens, and continued to manufacture the chemical.
The filed lawsuit is below:
Jack Nissen is a reporter at FOX 2 Detroit. You can contact him at (248) 552-5269 or at Jack.Nissen@Foxtv.com