February 21, 2018 08:16 PM
Minnesota attorney general Lori Swanson held a press conference Thursday, explaining how the $850 million the state got from manufacturer 3M Co. in a settlement agreement announced Tuesday could be spent.
The settlement came before the start of a $5 billion lawsuit that stemmed from 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 said, 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.
Hennepin County Judge Kevin Burke had agreed to a one-week delay in the matter, allowing 3M's attorneys more time to review a study released by the Minnesota Department of Health. MDH said its researchers could find no link between the groundwater contamination and health affects among people living in the east metro.
On Wednesday, Swanson announced that Minnesota Department of Natural Resources commissioner Tom Landwehr and Minnesota Pollution Control commissioner John Linc Stine will be the trustees of the settlement dollars. And the two said they will be talking with state lawmakers this week.
"This week we are reaching out to legislators to let them know what the settlement involves," Linc Stine said. "We're also reaching out to the impacted communities today. We'll be speaking with them to let them know what's in store."
A working group is also planned to determine how the money is dispensed. It's hoped that could be organized by this spring.
The two also plan to reach out to impacted communities like Oakdale, Woodbury, Lake Elmo and Cottage Grove.
A $1.5 million water treatment plant in Oakdale, built by 3M more than 10 years ago, is still monitored regularly for PFCs found in the water. The plant takes water from two of the city's wells and filters it using carbon granules that take out the PFCs.
"Everything is extracted with that carbon," Shawn Nelson, the utilities superintendent with the City of Oakdale said. "It holds onto that PFC chemical that is extracted coming out of the bottom of that tank."
The city said the well is working so well, other communities are interested.
"We've had a number of communities from the east metro - Cottage Grove, and Woodbury," he added.
That could be how some of the $850 million is spent.
The city administrator of Oakdale said they'll be discussing options as they learn more.
"Whatever the requirements for the grants, we will match that up with the needs of Oakdale and see what we can get long-term for residents and the community of Oakdale," Bart Fischer said.
Updated: February 21, 2018 08:16 PM
Created: February 21, 2018 04:59 PM
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