State Blames 3M for Causing Higher Cancer Rates, Premature Births in East Metro

November 20, 2017 09:14 PM

St. Paul-based 3M is being blamed for causing higher rates of cancer and premature birth in the east Metro, according to new court documents filed Monday.

The claims are part of a massive ongoing environmental lawsuit the state brought against the company in 2010.

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The state now wants 3M to pay up for causing what their experts say is more than $1.5 billion in damages to the state's natural resources.

Hundreds of pages were filed late Friday of internal memos, documents and studies about the dangerous chemicals it dumped for decades.

RELATED: 3M: Pension Plan Under Investigation by Labor Department

The filings aim to reveal what 3M knew and when they knew it, as a trial set for early next year moves closer.

The lawsuit stems from the 3M-made Perfluorinated chemicals, known as PFCs. The chemicals were used in its popular household product Scotchguard until the company phased out the chemical in the early 2000s.

But for more than 40 years, the state says, the company dumped industrial waste containing PFCs at four disposal sites in the east Metro: Lake Elmo, Oakdale, Woodbury and Cottage Grove.

Multiple studies have linked PFCs to cancer and birth defects.

Recently filed court records by the state suggest that much of the damage may already be done.

The state hired California Dr. David Sunding to study the impact of PFCs.

RELATED: President Disbands Advisory Councils after 3M CEO, Others Leave

Using a variety of sources, Sunding found that several cancers are more common in Washington County -- especially prostate cancer, with a 30 percent higher rate than in other Minnesota counties.

Sunding also found impacts to newborns, too. He wrote that "mothers residing in Oakdale between 2001 and 2006 were 34 percent more likely to have a child born with low birth weight."

3M sent 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS a statement late Monday, saying the state's case lacks merit.

"The case is based on the mistaken belief that the mere presence of these chemicals presents harm to human health and the environment. Most importantly, 3M believes these chemicals present no harm at the levels they are observed in Minnesota," says William A. Brewer III, who represents 3M in the case.

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Ryan Raiche

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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