Shapiro: ‘Legal action’ coming for companies tied to PFAS drinking water contamination
By Kyle Bagenstose | The Intelligencer | October 23, 2019
Read the full article by Kyle Bagenstose (The Intelligencer)
“Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said his office is preparing to take ‘legal action’ against companies that have manufactured firefighting foams, which contain chemical ingredients that have contaminated water supplies in Bucks and Montgomery counties.
Shapiro revealed the upcoming action during a meeting with the Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer editorial boards this week.
‘We will be taking significant legal action in the next couple of months,’ Shapiro said.
He added his office has already laid the legal groundwork by subpoenaing documents from the companies, which he did not name…
With formal legal action still to come, further details were not readily available. Shapiro said during the meeting that any proceeds from the suit would be used to combat the negative effects of contamination, and his office later further explained that any awards would be used to ‘restore losses and address continuing issues caused by these chemicals.’
As previously reported, firefighting foams used widely by the military have for decades contained per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Health experts worry that the man-made chemicals worry can cause health effects including high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, immunotoxicity, reproductive harms, and some cancers.
The chemicals were discovered in nationally high amounts in the Horsham, Warminster, and Warrington water supplies in 2014, eventually forcing the closure of more than 15 public water wells and hundreds of private water wells.
The Department of Defense has taken significant responsibility, admitting it used the firefighting foams as far back as 1970 at the former Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, former Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster, and active Horsham Air Guard Station.
The military has spent tens of millions of dollars to date investigating PFAS at the bases and providing filters for drinking water contaminated above a safety level recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
But in addition, the three heavily impacted towns have since implemented ‘zero tolerance’ plans to remove the chemicals below the EPA level, down to non-detectable levels. The military did not agree to those costs, leaving the towns on the hook for millions of dollars in annual costs. Residents are also still left wondering what the health effects may be…
‘We know companies sold and distributed chemicals containing (PFAS) in Pennsylvania that are now impacting our water and our communities,’ Shapiro said in an emailed response to questions. ‘We intend to take appropriate legal action to ensure these companies take responsibility.’
Companies that manufactured firefighting foam have already been widely targeted by private attorneys representing area residents, the three local water authorities, as well as other communities across the country suffering similar contaminations. Typical defendants are The 3M Co., Tyco Fire Products, Angus Fire, Buckeye Fire Protection Co., Chemguard and National Foam.
In May, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal filed his own suit against several of those companies, and also sued DuPont, corporate spinoff Chemours, and Kidde-Fenwal.
Due to the high volume of lawsuits being filed against the companies, the federal courts have consolidated more than 100 of the cases into a single, multi-district litigation being handled in U.S. District Court in Charleston, South Carolina. Lead attorneys on the case believe the ultimate award could be in the billions of dollars….”
This content provided by the PFAS Project.