Feb 21, 2018

3M Settles Water Pollution Suit With Minnesota for $850 Million

The state originally sought $5 billion in damages from the company

Minnesota has settled with 3M for $850 million in water pollution lawsuit

On Feb. 20, 2018, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced a settlement reached between the state and 3M for $850 million. The lawsuit resulted from the company’s water pollution by perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in several suburbs outside Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. 

The trial marked the state’s largest ever environmental lawsuit, with the state originally seeking punitive damages of $5 billion from 3M. The settlement cost finally agreed upon will be put towards different water projects in the areas affected by the company’s pollution. 

Specifically, the state intends to potentially construct new wells, connect people on private wells to municipal water sources or clean up existing state water supplies. 

The $850 million price tag is far under what the state targeted, which may have been affected by a report unveiled earlier in February by the Minnesota Department of Health. The report concluded that contamination in the areas perpetrated by 3M have demonstrated no unusually high rates of cancer or adverse birth outcomes. 

“We’re pleased with the settlement,” Swanson said. “We think the settlement will help solve a problem for Minnesota. It’s a problem that’s been a long time in the making for many decades. These chemicals as I mentioned were put into the ground and we are very hopeful that this settlement can help fix that.” 

The lawsuit dates back to 2010, facing many delays on the journey to trial. This settlement also is only one of at least 24 more similar suits that 3M faces regarding groundwater pollution by either PFCs or other chemicals throughout its history over many decades.