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3M settles $10.3 billion water pollution lawsuit

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3M has reached a significant settlement of $10.3 billion with US cities and towns over claims of water contamination caused by "forever chemicals." 

The settlement aims to address perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in public water supplies nationwide. 

Over 13 years, the chemical and manufacturing giant will provide funds for testing and cleanup efforts related to PFAS contamination.

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Despite the settlement, 3M did not admit any liability regarding PFAS contamination. 

The agreement covers remediation costs for water suppliers that have detected or may detect PFAS in the future. 

This settlement is part of 3M's commitment to cease all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025.

The settlement will end numerous legal claims, including a test case from the City of Stuart, Florida. 

The deal was reached just in time to avoid a scheduled trial before a federal judge. 

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The city manager of Stuart expressed gratitude for the settlement.

PFAS, commonly known as "forever chemicals," have been linked to various health issues and are persistent in the environment and human bodies. 

They have been detected in countless wild animal species worldwide and are present in the bloodstream of nearly all Americans. 

The ubiquity of PFAS has led to hundreds of lawsuits against 3M and other manufacturers.

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While the settlement provides financial assistance for PFAS cleanup, local taxpayers will still shoulder a significant portion of the costs. 

For instance, Stuart alone estimated damages and cleanup costs at $100-120 million. 

Similarly, Brunswick County, North Carolina, has spent nearly $1 billion on PFAS contamination cleanup.

The settlement requires court approval and the agreement of the plaintiffs involved. 

It also needs approval from the federal judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation. 

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Additionally, the reasonableness of any fee request from law firms representing plaintiffs will be evaluated.

3M clarified that it will continue to address other PFAS litigation through legal defense or negotiated resolutions. 

Analysts estimate 3M's total PFAS liabilities could reach $30 billion.

Efforts to clean up PFAS contamination have gained urgency following the Environmental Protection Agency's determination that near-zero levels of PFAS in drinking water are necessary. 

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