Vermont sues DuPont, 3M over PFAS contamination

Published: Jun. 27, 2019 at 12:09 PM EDT
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Vermont has filed lawsuits targeting major companies that manufacture products containing PFAS, a class of potentially toxic chemicals that have contaminated groundwater in Vermont and around the country.

In the lawsuits filed Wednesday, the Vermont Attorney General's office says companies including DuPont and 3M are responsible for damages caused to groundwater, drinking water, and other natural resources.

"The fact that these companies knew that these chemicals were harmful and dangerous and never disclosed it, never told us, the state of Vermont takes that seriously," said Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan.

Studies have found high levels in humans linked to a range of illnesses including kidney cancer, increased cholesterol levels and problems in pregnancies.

PFAS have been used in Teflon and other non-stick coatings meant to protect common consumer goods across the United States. PFAS contamination was detected in 2016 in private drinking water wells near the Saint-Gobain plant in North Bennington. It has since been detected in numerous other locations including airports, where it was used in some varieties of firefighting foam.

The lawsuit comes just a week after Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for people exposed to toxic substances like PFAS to get their medical monitoring costs covered by the company that released the chemicals. Scott said the bill sent the wrong message to businesses in the state.

In a statement accompanying Thursday's announcement, Scott said he appreciated the work of Donvans's office. "I believe the manufacturers of these chemicals - who continued to profit from their sale long after knowing the potential harm - should be held financially responsible for their negative impact on Vermonters," he said.

Vermont is one of many states taking legal action against the makers of PFAS. New Hampshire sued eight companies in May.