December 30, 2010
On December 30, 2010 Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced that her office had filed a lawsuit against 3M Co. alleging that past discharges of manufacturing byproducts have resulted in contamination of more than 100 square miles of groundwater and large portions of the Mississippi River. The lawsuit alleges that chemicals which were manufactured by 3M from the 1940s until 2002 were buried in the ground and discharged directly into surface water.
According to a press release issued by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, the chemicals are a class of materials known as perfluorochemicals (known as PFCs) which were used in the manufacture of various products including stain repellants, fire retardants, paints and other chemical products. 3M public record filings indicate that the company stopped producing the materials in 2002 following negotiations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Minnesota’s lawsuit, which was filed in State court in Hennepin County, seeks damages under the Minnesota Water Pollution Control Act, the Minnesota Environmental Response and Liability Act and common law.
A copy of the State’s complaint can be found at:http://minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2010/12/documents/3m-swanson-lawsuit.pdf. The State is seeking natural resource damages under the Minnesota Environmental Response and Liability Act (MERLA), codified at Minnesota Statutes Chapter 115B, including damages for pollution of Minnesota ground and surface water, harm to drinking water supplies and other natural resources of the State caused by the disposal of these chemicals. A second count of the complaint seeks damages under the Minnesota Water Pollution Control Act (Minnesota Statutes Chapter 115) and related regulations that protect surface and underground waters of the State. The State also alleges that 3M’s conduct constitutes trespass, common law nuisance, statutory nuisance and negligence. In its complaint the State seeks damages for the loss or destruction of fish or other aquatic life and other damages including loss of use of the State’s natural resources and contamination of the State’s property.
According to an article in the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal, 3M could not be immediately reached for comment. A copy of the article together with a news release from the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office is found at: http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/news/2010/12/30/ag-sues-3m-over-pfc-water-contamination.html. News stories about the State’s action appears in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio and can be found at:http://www.startribune.com/local/112661844.html?elr=KArksUUUezH_MDC7DaaDy_vDEh7P:DiUand http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/12/30/swanson-suit-3m/.
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