Outrage after 3M files lawsuit against Michigan over 'invalid' PFAS standards
After the State of Michigan filed a lawsuit last year against 3M for knowingly making products with toxic chemicals, the Minnesota based, manufacturing giant is now counter-suing.
3M is responsible for making and distributing a variety of products like ScotchGuard and firefighting foam--products that contain Polyfluorinated Alkyl substances, or PFAS. And last year, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a lawsuit against 3M, claiming the company knowingly hid the potentially fatal side effects of PFAS from the public.
While there has been a big debate about how many parts per-trillion is dangerous for humans to consume, last year Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to adopt statewide PFAS standards that were far lower than what the United States Environmental Protection Agency says is acceptable.
Now 3M is counter suing, claiming that Michigan’s PFAS standards were created in a “rushed and invalid regulatory process,” a move that has angered a number of groups in Michigan.
“3M’s challenge to these standards is an affront to public health and an attack on communities impacted by PFAS who just want safe water to drink for them and their families,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “In 2020, after overwhelming public input from experts, health professionals and communities impacted by PFAS, Michigan passed strong, protective drinking water limits for toxic PFAS chemicals. Governor Whitmer listened to the people of Michigan and proactively moved to put the health of Michigan communities first.”
All of this is tied to man-made landfills that local shoemaker Wolverine Worldwide used to dump drum barrels of waterproofing waste containing PFAS over 60 years ago. Those drum barrels leaked, and the waste made its way into the drinking water wells of nearby homes in Belmont. Some residents, like Sandy Wynn Stelt, then unknowingly drank the water for 25 years, and she says it’s had devastating effects.
“I have witnessed firsthand what this contamination can do,” Wynn Stelt said. “I watched my husband grow sick and die from cancer, I too have been diagnosed with cancer 6 months ago, so this house is two for two for cancer,” she said.
Wynn Stelt, along with other Belmont residents, have also filed a lawsuit against Wolverine Worldwide and 3M for damages.
Meanwhile, after the announcement of 3M’s counter lawsuit, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued this statement,
“We will not tolerate these poisons in our environment and our drinking water, and we will not tolerate a corporation like 3M putting its dollars ahead of our health and our water,” she said.