January 14, 2020
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a lawsuit earlier today in Washtenaw County Circuit Court against 17 defendants, including 3M and DuPont, for the damages and injury to the State of Michigan caused by contamination from toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively known as PFAS and often referred to as “forever chemicals.”
The lawsuit is the first legal action taken by the state against PFAS manufacturers and continues Michigan’s leadership in tackling the serious and widespread problem of PFAS contamination.
The State’s lawsuit asserts that the following 17 defendants deliberately concealed the dangers of PFAS and withheld scientific evidence, and intentionally, knowingly and recklessly sold, distributed, released, transported, supplied, arranged for disposal or treatment, and handled and used PFAS and PFAS-containing materials in Michigan in a way that they knew would contaminate natural resources and expose Michigan residents to harm:
“We bring this action today on behalf of the people of Michigan,” said Nessel. “It is our responsibility to protect our residents and our state’s natural resources and property by preventing and abating hazards to public health, safety, welfare and the environment – and by placing the responsibility for this massive undertaking with those responsible for creating the problem.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Director Liesl Clark joined Nessel to announce the litigation.
“Since taking office, I’ve been deliberate and focused on protecting our Great Lakes and cleaning up our drinking water,” said Whitmer. “Michigan has been established as a national leader in identifying, monitoring and addressing contamination caused by PFAS. As such, we must continue to protect communities all across our state from harmful PFAS chemicals by holding polluters accountable. Future generations of Michiganders are counting on us to get to work today.”
The complaint contends the defendants knew or should have known that:
The state also contends the defendants knew PFAS are toxic and pose substantial health and environmental risks but hid this information from the state and its residents. Specifically, the companies neglected to tell people what was in the products, suppressed the scientific evidence that the chemicals were hazardous, discharged the chemicals into the environment and distributed the chemicals all over the world, including into Michigan, knowing that PFAS would contaminate natural resources and threaten public health.
“Chemical companies have known for decades that PFAS compounds don’t break down, build up in the human body, and exposures can lead to illness, yet they never warned Michigan consumers or manufacturers of the unintended consequences associated with using these ‘forever’ chemicals,” said Clark. “There is ample evidence that PFAS represents a clear and present danger to Michigan’s drinking water, our economy and our quality of life. Michigan deserves fair compensation from the chemical companies that profited from the sale of PFAS chemicals in our state.”
Exposure to PFAS is correlated with several harmful and serious health effects including but not limited to:
“Without widespread action to investigate, remediate and restore the resources in Michigan impacted by PFAS contamination, the presence and migration of PFAS in our state’s natural resources and property will continue unchecked and indefinitely, threatening natural resources, property and our residents,” concluded Nessel. “We are committed to ensuring that the companies responsible for unleashing PFAS on our state will stand up to their legal obligations and responsibilities. Their reprehensible conduct demands Gov. Whitmer and I take every legal and regulatory action necessary to protect the people and natural resources of our state.”