3M to pay Wolverine $55M in PFAS lawsuit settlement
Wolverine Worldwide has reached a $55 million settlement with 3M in a lawsuit over PFAS contamination.
In January 2018, the State of Michigan sued Wolverine for environmental contamination after PFAS chemicals were found in the soil, groundwater, and drinking water near the Belmont waste-disposal site that Wolverine used for many years. In December 2018, Wolverine sued 3M, alleging that 3M failed to notify customers that PFAS were a risk to the environment.
3M announced the recent settlement on the same day that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its intention to regulate PFOA and PFOS, which are two of the most prolific PFAS. PFAS are a class of chemicals used in everything from firefighter foam to non-stick coating on pans. They are made by several companies, including Maplewood-based 3M. Wolverine bought the chemicals for the past 40 years to waterproof its shoes. PFAS are sometimes known as “forever chemicals” because of their tendency not to break down in the environment or the human body.
The settlement agreement was announced on Thursday and will resolve all legal claims between 3M and Wolverine Worldwide Inc. 3M made a statement that the funds will be used to address PFAS chemicals found in the environment in communities near a waste-disposal site in Belmont, Michigan. The 3M funds will help improve water infrastructure and treatment, said John Banovetz, 3M’s chief technology officer.
3M’s settlement is small compared to the $850 million 3M agreed to pay to the State of Minnesota in February 2018 for PFAS contamination found in or near 3M’s factory in Cottage Grove and disposal sites in Cottage Grove, Woodbury, Oakdale, and Lake Elmo.
As concerns grow over the potential health effects of PFAS, Minnesota has tightened its rules over the level of chemicals it considers safe to consume. That’s forced some cities to stop using municipal wells where the amount of PFAS now exceed the state’s advisory levels.