3M Settles with State for $850M in PFC Lawsuit

February 20, 2018 10:52 PM

3M Company will pay the state of Minnesota $850 million as part of a settlement agreement reached in a seven-year chemical disposal lawsuit. 

Attorney General Lori Swanson's office announced the agreement nearly six hours after a trial on the matter was scheduled to begin.


Under terms of the agreement, the funds will come in the form of a grant to be used in the east metro for drinking water and water sustainability projects. Those will include municipal and residential drinking water projects, Swanson said

RELATED: Judge Agrees to Delay 3M Trial after Recent Report

"That's the laser-beam focus of where the money is going to go," Swanson said. 

The company says it will record a first quarter charge of about $1.10 to $1.15 per share to include legal fees related to the lawsuit. 

3M said in a separate release the money will be issued for a "3M Grant for Water Quality and Sustainability Fund." It will also go toward habitat and recreation improvement, including to fishing piers, trails and open space reservations.

"We are proud of our record of environmental stewardship,  and while we do not believe there is a PFC-related public health issue, 3M will work with the State on these important projects," said John Banovetz, senior vice president of research and development and the company's chief technology officer.

The $5 billion lawsuit stemmed from 3M-made Perfluorinated chemicals – known as PFCs – the company used in the popular household product Scotchguard until it phased it out in the early 2000s.

The state had sited multiple studies as it prepared to argue that the industrial waste containing PFCs the company dumped into four east metro disposal sites for more than 40 years could cause a higher rate of cancer and birth defects among area residents.

RELATED: MDH Finds No Link Between 3M and Cancer, Premature Births Rates in East Metro

However, the Minnesota Department of Health said last week its researchers could find no link between the groundwater contamination and health affects among people living in the east metro. The attorney general's release says the MDH report amounted to an attempt to blindside the state's lawsuit ahead of the trial.

"Regarding the Department of Health, stay tuned," she said. "I'm going to have more to say about the health department later." 

In a separate statement, Swanson said "The Minnesota Department of Health tried to blindside the state's lawsuit on the eve of the trial and the swamp that was referred to in the last election is not limited to Washington.  We have our own problems in Minnesota with regulatory agencies that are captive to the industries they are supposed to regulate."

Swanson says she believes the agreement approved by Judge Kevin S. Burke Tuesday afternoon brings an end to the largest environmental lawsuit in state history.

In a statement Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton said, in part, "This settlement is an enormously important advance to protect the health of over 67,000 Minnesotans in our east metro area, who deserve clean and safe drinking water. I thank Attorney General Lori Swanson for her long and exceptionally hard work to obtain this settlement."

"I'm also mindful that this settlement comes at the expense of a great Minnesota company, 3M, whose many positive contributions to our state and our citizens greatly exceed these unfortunate circumstances. I look forward to resuming our cordial working relationship and supporting 3M's continued success for many years to come," Dayton added.



Michael Oakes

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