Jun 17, 2019

3M Admits to Illegal Chemical Release

3M plant in Decatur, Ala., released FBSA in the Tennessee River

 3M plant in Decatur, Ala., released FBSA in the Tennessee River

The 3M Plant in Decatur, Ala. admitted to illegal chemical release in Tennessee River. According to WHNT, the company admitted fault in an April letter to the U.S. EPA. The letter was sent by an attorney on behalf of 3M and stated the Decatur plant released the chemical perfluoro-1-butane sulfonamide (FBSA)—and may also have released a similar one called FBSEE—in the river.

3M also admitted that releasing these chemicals into the Tennessee River violates the Toxic Substance Control Act. The release was discovered during a 3M internal investigation, and company told the EPA it “stopped manufacturing operations for both chemicals due to concerns of further violating a federal consent order to not release them into the water,” according to WHNT.

3M is prohibited from releasing chemicals according to an EPA consent order, and the agency is still determining the potential risk the chemicals may pose to human health, according to WHNT.

3M released the a statement to WHNT regarding the situation.

“3M voluntarily reported to EPA and ADEM releases from our manufacturing processes that did not comply with the Toxic Substance Control Act. We shut down the identified manufacturing operations and are completing internal changes to fully address the issue. 3M takes seriously its environmental compliance obligations and is continuously assessing its performance against such obligations.”

According to WHNT, the letter did not say how much or when the chemicals were released into the water. In 2016, the chemicals PFOS and PFOA were found in the West Morgan East Lawrence Drinking Water Authority water supply, and according to court records, 3M settled with the authority in a lawsuit for $35 million.

“3M also under-reported to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management its discharge of chemicals into the Tennessee River from 2012 to 2016,” the WHNT report stated. Both the EPA and Alabama state regulators did not notify the public about the chemical releases.