Lawsuit alleges PFAS contamination of California wells

May 20 15:52 2021 Jeffrey Nadrich Print This Article

The lawsuit alleges defendants knowingly contaminated drinking wells with chemicals they knew were toxic.

A lawsuit filed in federal court on May 11 alleges that wells in the City of Pico Rivera,Guest Posting California have been contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The lawsuit names multiple defendants, including 3M Company, E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Company, The Chemours Company, and DuPont De Nemours.

The PFAS referred to in the lawsuit are perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The lawsuit claims these chemicals “are persistent, toxic, and bioaccumulative compounds when released into the environment.”

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants knew these chemicals were toxic, that they would be used, released, stored and disposed of in the City of Pico Rivera or upstream from the city, and that this would cause the chemicals to enter the environment and move through soil, sediment, surface water, groundwater and stormwater, contaminating wells in the city, rendering drinking water unusable and unsafe and threatening the health of the public.

The lawsuit seeks to recover all costs necessary to investigate and remediate the contamination of the wells.

Products containing PFOA and PFOS, including AFFF firefighting foam, according to the complaint, were used at airports, fire departments and fire training facilities within the vicinity of Pico Rivera, and the lawsuit claims these compounds then traveled by stormwater, surface water and groundwater towards Pico Rivera wells.

The lawsuit also claims that products containing PFAS were disposed of in landfills and wastewater systems in the Pico Rivera area, contributing to the contamination of wells.

Defendant 3M, according to the lawsuit, runs two manufacturing facilities in Monrovia, CA, where products containing PFAS are made. One facility manufactures dental products containing PFAS and the other manufacturers tape and adhesives containing PFAS.

The lawsuit claims that drinking and monitoring wells downgradient from the Monrovia facilities have higher levels of PFAS in them than wells upgradient.

PFOA and PFOS are very water soluble and don’t easily stick to particles of soil, according to the complaint, meaning they can migrate long distances through soil and into groundwater.

The complaint claims PFOA and PFOS “are thermally, chemically, and biologically stable in the environment and resistant to biodegredation, atmospheric photo-oxidation, direct photolysis, and hydrolysis,” implying that the chemicals persist in the environment for a very long time once they enter the environment.

The complaint claims exposure to PFOA and PFOS has been associated with numerous negative health effects, including increased cancer risk and lowering a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant.

The lawsuit claims that PFOA and PFOS has entered the wells of Pico Rivera after entering the environment via land, air and water from industrial facilities utilizing PFAS. The complaint also claims PFOA and PFOS have entered these wells due to the use of recycled wastewater and stormwater to recharge groundwater supplies.

The California State Water Resources Control Board has found that major PFAS sources include wastewater treatment plants, landfills and industrial sites, stating, “PFAS can get into drinking water when products containing them are used or spilled onto the ground or into lakes and rivers. Once in groundwater, PFAS are easily transported large distances and can contaminate drinking wells.”

The complaint claims that PFAS can enter the wastewater stream by laundering clothing coated with PFAS, by using home care products containing PFAS, and by using cookware containing PFAS, such as cookware which utilizes Teflon.

The complaint claims that 3M has known since the 1950s that PFAS are toxic, and that they bioaccumulate in humans and animals. 3M knew since the 1960s, according to the complaint, that PFAS are resistant to degradation in the environment, and that wastes from its PFAS manufacturing plants which were dumped to landfills would leach into groundwater. An internal 3M memo from 1960, according to the complaint, stated that these wastes would “eventually reach the water table and pollute domestic wells.”

3M, once they became aware that the properties of PFAS could hurt them financially, according to the complaint, engaged in a policy of manipulating science.

“In exchange for providing grant money to friendly researchers, 3M obtained the right to review and edit draft scientific papers regarding PFAS and sought control over when and whether the results of scientific studies were published at all,” according to the complaint.

3M, according to the lawsuit, provided millions of dollars to Professor John Giesy, who “whorked on behalf of 3M to ‘buy favors’ from scientists in the field for the purpose of entering into a ‘quid pro quo’ with the scientists.”

The lawsuit claims that Giesy said in emails he was careful to make sure there was “no paper trail to 3M,” and that his goal was to keep “bad” papers regarding PFAS out of the literature because “in litigation situations” those papers “can be a large obstacle to refute.”

The complaint claims that E.I. Du Pont De Nemours (Old DuPont) knew PFAS were toxic in 1961, and eventually paid a $10.25 million civil administrative penalty after the EPA alleged they failed to disclose PFOA’s toxicity.

The C8 Science Panel, in 2012, found that PFOA was probably linked to two types of cancer. Following this, over 3,500 personal injury claims were filed against Old DuPont. The claims were consolidated into a federal multidistrict litigation, leading to multiple multi-million-dollar verdicts against Old DuPont.

The complaint claims that, by 2013, Old DuPont knew that its manufacturing of PFAS exposed it to massive liability, so, according to the lawsuit, Old DuPont responded by fraudulently restructuring itself to isolate its assets from PFAS liabilities and hinder creditors.

Old DuPont, according to the lawsuit, transferred its Performance Chemicals business, which manufactured products utilizing PFAS, into its subsidiary Chemours, then spun off Chemours as a separate entity, saddling it with Old DuPont’s PFAS liabilities.

Old DuPont then, according to the complaint, became a subsidiary of DowDuPont, who then “engaged in numerous business segment and product line ‘realignments’ and ‘divestitures.’”

The complaint claims that this restructuring scheme was intended to defraud creditors and avoid financial responsibility for liabilities relating to PFAS.

The complaint seeks to recover damages based on strict product liability – design defect, alleging that products containing PFAS are defective by design because they are dangerous to human health when manufactured and used as intended.

The lawsuit seeks to recover damages based on strict product liability – failure to warn, alleging the defendants knew PFAS were dangerous and could contaminate drinking wells but failed to warn the public.

The complaint alleges negligence, claiming the defendants failed in their duty to be reasonably careful to prevent harm since they manufactured and contaminated the environment with a toxic product all while knowing it was toxic.

The complaint seeks to recover damages based on numerous causes of action relating to fraud, alleging that Old DuPont’s restructuring scheme was fraudulent and designed to shield them from liability.

For more information on PFAS contamination lawsuits, consult with Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers.

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About Article Author

Jeffrey Nadrich
Jeffrey Nadrich

Jeffrey Nadrich is the managing partner of Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers, a California personal injury law firm which represents victims of PFAS contamination.

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