August 21, 2020
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Thursday filed a pair of complaints in state and federal court to protect the State of Michigan’s environment and to recover for the State the damages and costs of contamination from firefighting foam known as AFFF – aqueous film-forming foam – that contained toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively known as PFAS.
These lawsuits focus on adverse impacts specifically from AFFF on State of Michigan resources and the environment, and follow up on the lawsuit the Attorney General filed in January of this year against 3M, DuPont and other manufacturers of PFAS-containing materials that ended up in Michigan’s environment.
The lawsuit filed in state court pursues manufacturers of commercial-grade AFFF that was sold to customers in the State of Michigan and the federal suit names manufacturers of AFFF made according to military standards, including Chemguard, National Foam, 3M, Dupont and others. Both cases assert that the defendants deliberately concealed the dangers of PFAS and intentionally, knowingly and recklessly sold, distributed, released, transported, supplied, arranged for disposal or treatment, and handled and used the PFAS-containing AFFF in a way that they knew would contaminate natural resources and expose Michigan residents to harm.
“These actions continue my office’s efforts to protect our residents and our state’s natural resources and property from the dangers posed by PFAS in the environment,” said Nessel. “As with the lawsuit already filed for PFAS contamination from non-AFFF sources, these lawsuits seek recovery of damages, remediation costs and other relief needed due to PFAS contamination from AFFF in the State of Michigan. Michigan taxpayers should not have to pay for this massive undertaking – those who profited from the manufacture and sale of these harmful chemicals should.”
The full extent of the damages caused by AFFF to Michigan’s public health and environment is still unknown, and the costs of those damages to the State is yet to be determined.
“The companies that made and sold AFFF knew about the risks to human health and the environment resulting from use of these foams, yet they continued to sell them without warning buyers of the danger,” said Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Director Liesl Clark. “In keeping with our legislative mandate that parties responsible for pollution should pay for clean-up, the State is seeking compensation from the companies who profited from the sale of AFFF that now contaminates Michigan’s environment.”
Exposure to PFAS is correlated with several harmful and serious health effects including but not limited to:
“The State of Michigan is leading the nation in aggressively seeking out and addressing the problems created by PFAS,” said Nessel. “Taking action on PFAS is not free, and these entities need to be part of the response to the PFAS problems in our environment. While the State is always ready to work cooperatively with responsible parties, we are prepared to litigate when needed to resolve PFAS contamination in the State of Michigan, and we will continue to pursue additional litigation when appropriate.”