3M secured a preliminary green light for its $10.3 billion settlement on Tuesday, addressing claims from U.S. water providers that the company contaminated drinking water with PFAS, toxic chemicals used in various products including firefighting foam.
The approval from U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in Charleston came shortly after 22 U.S. states and territories, which had previously raised objections, decided to withdraw their concerns. The settlement, announced in June, proposes funds for public water providers over 13 years to address PFAS contamination. A decisive “fairness hearing” in February will determine the settlement’s final status.
The deal underwent modifications after states argued it didn’t adequately represent the damage PFAS caused. The revised agreement now enables individual water providers to ascertain expected payouts before agreement, extends their decision-making time on the settlement, and confirms states’ rights to initiate individual PFAS contamination lawsuits. Notably, 3M has set a 2025 target to cease PFAS production, though the company hasn’t admitted any wrongdoing in the matter.
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