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States withdraw objections to 3M’s $10.3 billion PFAS settlement


(Reuters) — A group of 22 U.S. states and territories have dropped their bid to block a proposed $10.3 billion settlement between 3M and public water providers that have accused the company of polluting drinking water with toxic chemicals.

The states withdrew their objections late Monday after negotiating changes with 3M and the water providers to the proposed deal, which would settle hundreds of lawsuits against the Minnesota-based company over perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, contamination.

3M, the water providers and the states said in a joint filing in federal court in South Carolina that the changes allow individual water providers to obtain estimates on their expected payout before agreeing to the deal, give providers more time to decide whether to opt out of the deal and clarify that states can still pursue separate lawsuits over PFAS contamination.

The settlement must still be approved by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in Charleston, South Carolina, who is overseeing the litigation.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office originally objected to the deal, said in a statement Tuesday that the “new agreement will ensure 3M is held accountable.”

Scott Summy, an attorney for the water providers, said they are pleased that the states have withdrawn their objections after weeks of collaborative negotiations between the parties.

3M did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The states had objected in July, saying the deal did not adequately account for the damage caused by PFAS and did not give water providers enough information to understand whether the settlement was suitable or not.

Dubbed "forever chemicals" because they do not easily break down, PFAS are used in a range of products from firefighting foam to non-stick cookware and have been linked to cancer and hormonal dysfunction.

The proposed settlement announced in June would provide funds to cities, towns and other public water providers over a 13-year period to test for and treat PFAS contamination.

It stems from litigation over firefighting foams containing PFAS that were sprayed in fields or airports and left to seep into groundwater and other waterways.

3M, which has said the settlement would help support remediation “at any level,” has not admitted wrongdoing.

California and five other states and U.S. territories that had objected to the deal said in a separate filing Monday that they still think 3M should be paying more to settle the cases, even though they no longer formally object.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has called PFAS an “urgent public health and environmental issue.”

3M in December set a 2025 deadline to stop producing PFAS.