MAINE, USA (From news reports) -- Environmental advocacy organizations like Defend Our Health are applauding the long-awaited legal filings filed earlier this week by Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey.
Maine is now the latest state to sue several chemical manufacturers over contamination with the "forever chemicals" known as PFAS.
The lawsuits were filed in Cumberland Country Superior Court against DuPont, 3M, and other companies seeking unspecified financial damages to pay for the state's investigation into PFAS contamination.
That includes water and soil testing of hundreds of private wells and farmland, spread with contaminated wastewater sludge.
The legal action comes as concerns mount about the health effects of the compounds that are in consumer products, fabrics, food packaging, and firefighting foams.
The lawsuits allege the companies knew about the health hazards of PFAS for decades but promoted the chemical products as safe and appropriate for widespread use. Environmental advocacy organizations like Defend Our Health are applauding the long-awaited legal filings.
"This is not the farmer's fault, not the firefighter's fault this toxic chemical comes from billion-dollar companies and it's important that they pick up the tab for it," Sarah Woodbury, the Directory of Advocacy of Defend Our Health said.
Media representatives for two of the companies named in the lawsuit said they will vigorously defend their records of safety in court.
"In 2019, DuPont de Nemours was established as a new multi-industrial specialty products company. DuPont de Nemours has never manufactured PFOA, PFOS or firefighting foam. While we don't comment on litigation matters, we believe these complaints are without merit, and we look forward to vigorously defending our record of safety, health, and environmental stewardship," Dan Turner, a spokesman for DuPont de Nemours, told NEWS CENTER Maine in a statement.
"For background purposes -- there is a clear difference between the operations of DuPont de Nemours and legacy E.I. du Pont de Nemours (EID) operations from decades ago. Historically, EID was a commodity conglomerate made up of various product lines and chemical specialties. In 2015, EID spun off the chemicals businesses, including fluoroproducts, into an entity now known as the Chemours Company. The creation of DowDuPont - through the 2017 merger of the Dow Chemical Company and EID - grouped the remaining product lines and laid the framework for the creation of three new, highly-specialized companies in 2019. EID, now doing business as Corteva Agriscience, has a comprehensive and diverse agriculture business portfolio and owns the former agriculture businesses of the Dow Chemical Company. Dow is one of the largest chemical producers in the world. DuPont de Nemours, which inherited the specialty products manufacturing assets of both EID and Dow, is fully focused on the specialty products market. To implicate DuPont de Nemours in these past issues ignores this corporate evolution, and the movement of product lines and personnel that now exist with entirely different companies," Turner said.
Carolyn LaViolette, the spokeswoman for 3M, said in a statement:
"3M acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS - including AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) - and will vigorously defend its record of environmental stewardship. AFFF was a critical tool developed to serve an important need for military service members and other responders facing potentially high-hazard, life-threatening challenges. 3M will continue to remediate PFAS and address litigation by defending ourselves in court or through negotiated resolutions, all as appropriate," LaViolette said.