Read the full article by Carrie Fellner (The Sydney Morning Herald)

“Global chemicals maker 3M will be accused of a decades-long campaign to deceive the public about the risks of its controversial ‘forever chemicals’ as it faces a series of bombshell legal claims worth up to $US40 billion ($58 billion) that a judge described as an ‘existential threat’ to multiple defendants’ survival.

The Wall Street giant is bracing for a landmark legal trial in the United States beginning in June over its use of the family of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl chemicals, known as PFAS. In Australia, the chemicals have contaminated at least 90 sites and officials have acknowledged PFAS has contaminated the blood of up to 98 per cent of the world’s population

…3M is the largest target among a string of corporations being sued in the multidistrict litigation, which the federal court has chosen to run through the District of South Carolina.

The mammoth case has absorbed the claims of 18 US states and territories as well as more than 100 water providers demanding compensation to filter PFAS from drinking water supplies.

It will also canvass the claims of thousands of individuals alleging they have suffered personal injury from the toxins, including testicular and kidney cancer.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for economic loss, damage to the environment, personal injury and medical monitoring over the use of PFAS in aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) at airports, military bases, fire stations and industrial sites.

Since it was first filed in 2018 the case has ballooned to include more than 3300 claimants, making it the largest PFAS litigation on foot in the United States.

Documents beginning to emerge from years of discovery are expected to cause angst on Wall Street as 3M faces fresh allegations of concealing the health risks of PFAS and their widespread presence in human blood.

‘The truth was that 3M possessed this knowledge for more than 20 years, and had spent two decades actively hiding, distracting or misleading those outside of 3M about this important public health matter,’ court filings said…

…According to a Bloomberg Intelligence report, 3M is facing a $US40 billion threat to its bottom line as a result of the 14,000 lawsuits filed against it in the United States over water contamination caused by PFAS.

The report’s author Holly Froum found remediation costs were potentially worth up to $35 billion payable over 30 years, and personal injury, medical monitoring and property damage claims were worth as much as $5 billion.”…