Read the full article by Eric Fleischauer

“3M Co. has known for more than 35 years that chemicals it discharged into the Tennessee River were toxic, and for more than 14 years that treatment plants were not removing the chemicals from drinking water, according to a lawsuit filed by a Lawrence County resident with kidney cancer.

The latest claim filed against 3M and its subsidiary Dyneon LLC, Daikin America Inc. and the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority highlights allegations 3M knew of the hazards associated with non-stick industrial chemicals used in its Decatur plant, yet continued to dispose of them in ways that led to river contamination.

The complaint was filed last week in federal court by Deanna Arnold, who was diagnosed in August 2017 with kidney cancer, according to the lawsuit. It alleges West Morgan-East Lawrence knew its drinking water was unsafe for years before taking steps to remove the chemicals, which traveled 13 miles downstream before entering its water supply.

‘Defendants (3M and Daikin) knew that their actions contaminated the water of the Tennessee River and that it was used for public consumption, yet failed to warn plaintiff of the presence of these chemicals until plaintiff sustained irreparable injuries,’ according to the complaint.

3M has not filed a response to the lawsuit, but it has denied similar claims in the past.

Carl Cole, a lawyer for West Morgan-East Lawrence, said his client is not at fault.

‘West Morgan-East Lawrence is a victim of the corporate polluters, just like its customers,’ Cole said Thursday. ‘West Morgan-East Lawrence did nothing wrong and has been proactive and has overcome years of lies told to it by the corporate polluters. The people at West Morgan-East Lawrence are heroes, not villains.’

The complaint claims perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) buried in landfills and injected in a sludge incorporation area on 3M property continue to enter the river through tributaries, groundwater and the Decatur Utilities Wastewater Treatment Plant…

Wastewater and stormwater from Daikin’s Decatur plant contain the chemicals both because Daikin used and disposed of PFOA, and because Daikin is located on land previously used by 3M for the disposal of contaminated sludge, according to the complaint.

The allegations focus on 3M’s disposal of PFOA and PFOS, which once were used in the production of Scotchgard and have also been used in firefighting foams, stain repellents, the lining of microwaveable popcorn bags and numerous other products.”