Chemical makers settle PFAS-related claims for $1.19 billion

Reuters | June 2, 2023

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By Clark Mindock

(Reuters) – Chemours Co, DuPont de Nemours Inc and Corteva Inc on Friday said they had reached an agreement in principle to settle claims that they contaminated U.S. public water systems with toxic “forever chemicals” for $1.19 billion.

The three chemical companies and several others are facing thousands of lawsuits in the U.S. over their alleged role in polluting the environment with perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, substances (PFAS) that have been used for decades in manufacturing a wide range of products, including nonstick coatings such as Teflon and firefighting foams.

The three companies, which deny the allegations, said that they expect to finalize a formal agreement by the second quarter of 2023. Chemours said it would contribute half the agreed amount, while the remainder would be provided by DuPont and Corteva.

Chemours will take a pre-tax charge in the current quarter of $592 million related to the fund.

“This is an impressive step toward righting a corporate wrong that threatened the health of all Americans,” said Scott Summy, an attorney for the plaintiffs with the law firm Baron & Budd.

The companies declined to comment beyond the original announcement.

The settlement came hours before Bloomberg News reported that 3M had struck a tentative $10 billion deal with U.S. cities and towns to resolve the PFAS water pollution lawsuits it is facing. Reuters could not immediately confirm that report.

Commonly called “forever chemicals” because they do not easily break down in the human body or environment, PFAS have been linked to cancer, hormonal dysfunction, weakening of the immune system and environmental damage.

The companies said the agreement resolves claims made against them by hundreds of water providers across the country, who say they are responsible to help pay to clean up PFAS contamination from firefighting foams.

Those lawsuits, which also target 3M and other companies that made, or sold, products containing PFAS, have been consolidated in South Carolina’s federal court. A first trial testing those claims against 3M Co. is scheduled to begin next week, but it was not immediately clear whether it would proceed.

Once finalized, the settlement will be subject to the approval of U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, who is overseeing the consolidated litigation.

The judge, noting the significant liability faced by defendants, said in 2019 that the litigation could pose an “existential threat” to the companies involved.

Friday’s settlement does not cover personal injury claims against the companies brought by individuals exposed to PFAS, or claims involving pollution at water systems owned by states or the U.S. government or at some smaller water suppliers, the companies said in a statement.

(Reporting by Sourasis Bose in Bengaluru and Clark Mindock in New York; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Vinay Dwivedi, Alexia Garamfalvi, Sharon Singleton and Diane Craft)


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