Delaware Attorney General Kathleen Jennings announced that the state Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit to over the use of PFAS “forever chemicals” related to the use and firefighting foam used at airports and military bases.
The lawsuit results from an investigation conducted over a two-year period. The chemicals have been found in wells around the New Castle and Dover air bases.
In the lawsuit, the state alleges that 3M Company, BASF and other manufacturers caused damage to Delaware’s environment and jeopardized the health of residents by introducing PFAS into rivers, streams, groundwater, soils, and wildlife.
DuPont is not listed as a defendant The state reached a separate agreement with the company over environmental matters. The Delaware-based company is mentioned in the suit as being a party to an effort that allegedly concealed dangers regarding the firefighting foam. Delaware and other states allege that the companies knew that better alterntives were available.
The state lists as counsel, the national law firm of Grant & Eisenhofer. The firm has experience in class action lawsuits.
The lawsuits seek damages, including costs necessary to restore impacted natural resources and funding for sate-run public health programs.
“I don’t care who you are: if you harm Delaware and itspeople, we will hold you accountable,” said Jennings. “3M and the other defendants knew the dangers that PFAS posed and they still chose profits over our neighborhoods and our children. Delawareans shouldn’t have to pay the costs of corporate greed, and we’re taking action to ensure that they won’t.”
The lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of Delaware and seeks monetary damages, including natural resource damages and costs to test, monitor, assess, and respond to contamination. The natural resources impacted include groundwater and other resources near the New Castle County Airport in New Castle County and the Dover Air Force Base in Kent County where products were long used and disposed of.
- Corporate records from 3M show that it developed a sophisticated understanding of health and environmental hazards that PFAS posed no later than the 1960s. The company concealed this information and developed thousands of industrial applications for the chemicals, including its own PFAS-based AFFF products and sales of chemicals to manufacturers for incorporation into their AFFF products, generating billions of dollars in revenue.
- Safer alternatives not containing or breaking down into toxic PFAS were available when the Defendants designed, manufactured, marketed, distributed, supplied, and/or sold the products.
- Defendants also failed to provide adequate warnings and instructions with their AFFF products that may have eliminated or limited the release of PFAS from AFFF into the environment or otherwise mitigate their detrimental environmental effects.
- At the New Castle County Airport and Dover Air Force Base, PFAS-were sprayed directly on or near the ground in firefighting and fire training exercises, causing it to be disposed, spilled or otherwise discharged or released into the environment as a matter of ordinary and intended usage.
PFAS compounds are toxic and do not occur naturally. Due to the extraordinary strength of the carbon-fluorine bond that defines these compounds, they resist natural degradation processes and are commonly called “forever chemicals.” PFAS compounds accumulate in living tissue, leading to chronic exposures, and several have been linked to cancer, thyroid disruption, ulcerative colitis, and developmental and systemic disorders. Several Delaware water utilities have installed specialized filtration technologies to remove PFAS from drinking water.
Delawareans who receive their drinking water from private wells are strongly encouraged to annually check their water. A simple water test is available from the State of Delaware for $4, with more comprehensive tests available from private companies. Learn more at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/lab/privdw.html. Delawareans who receive their water from a community water system should still monitor their public water systems through the Delaw