“3M Co. has agreed to give the state of Minnesota $850 million to resolve the biggest environmental lawsuit in the state’s history over the decades-long contamination of groundwater in the east metro area.

On Tuesday, the day that the trial between the state and 3M was set to begin, Attorney General Lori Swanson said the money will be used to clean up contaminated water in the communities that were affected by the perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) used in consumer products like Teflon and Scotchgard that were dumped for years at four sites in Washington County. The agreement provides money for improved drinking water infrastructure, sustainability and natural resource projects. About 12 percent of the total will be paid to the national law firm Swanson retained on a contingency basis to represent the state.

Swanson said at a news conference that she was pleased with the settlement, which attorneys have been negotiating for weeks, and said that the money can be used to improve drinking water for individual homeowners and municipal drinking water systems. The company also agreed to pay up to another $40 million in the next five years as part of a remediation agreement it made with the state in 2008, bringing the total to about $890 million…

While a major lawsuit in Minnesota, it is only one of about 37 PFC-related cases against 3M across the country tied to contaminated drinking water…

While large, the settlement is probably not a big financial hit to 3M, said Matt Arnold, stock analyst at Edward Jones. It equals about 1 percent of the company’s market value, and the company has $4.1 billion in cash on its balance sheet…

Deal highlights

  • Drinking water in areas contaminated by PFCs will be cleaned up, safeguarded.
  • 67,000 east metro residents affected. 3M agrees to pay up to another $40 million over five years to continue cleanup started in 2008.
  • About 12 percent of the settlement will pay for the state’s law firm.
  • 3M faces dozens of other such suits nationwide.”


Read the full article by Josephine Marcotty.