Read the full article by Jennifer Bjorhus (Star Tribune)

“Melissa DeWoskin will never know whether the toxic ‘forever chemicals’ from her contaminated private well in West Lakeland Township played a role in her daughter’s developmental disabilities.

The what-ifs and unknowns are difficult — and all the money from Minnesota’s $850 million settlement with 3M Co. over the groundwater pollution from the man-made chemicals won’t change that.

‘Your instinct as a mother is to blame yourself,’ DeWoskin said, choking back tears. ‘Did I expose myself to something?’

The township is a hot spot for contamination from the man-made per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances called PFAS. The toxic nonstick chemicals, manufactured by Maplewood-based 3M, are linked to a host of diseases and don’t break down in the environment. They’ve polluted more than 150 square miles of groundwater across southern Washington County, affecting the drinking water of 14 communities and more than 170,000 Minnesotans.

The scale of the problem is enormous, and state officials trying to divvy up the settlement face little consensus among cities, residents, environmental groups — and now 3M — over how to spend it. A sample of the more than 200 public comments on the three options the state issued last fall show myriad concerns such as costs being underestimated, priorities being misplaced and PFAS treatment levels not being strict enough.

In its 24-page letter to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the state Department of Natural Resources, 3M Co. lawyers blasted the proposals for violating terms of the settlement. For example, the company said many of the drinking water projects under consideration are not ‘reasonable and necessary’ projects, as the settlement requires.

The MPCA said the settlement clearly gives the state the sole authority to pick projects, and all three of the proposals fit the settlement’s goals. 3M has no veto authority, said MPCA Assistant Commissioner Kirk Koudelka…”