A federal district court judge has given preliminary approval to a $1.185 billion settlement agreement between municipal water utilities and DuPont over drinking water contamination from PFAS.
Wait, what is PFAS again? Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals,” are found in a wide variety of common commercial products like cosmetics, apparel, carpeting, sealants, and fire-retardants. Commercial applications or thousands of products could be present in soil or groundwater in trace or even undetectable amounts unbeknownst to the contractor working on a given project.
Recently, a federal district court judge has given preliminary approval to a $1.185 billion settlement agreement between municipal water utilities and DuPont over drinking water contamination from PFAS. These funds would be allocated among the municipalities for PFAS removal. This settlement is in addition to the $10.3 billion settlement by 3M that AGC previously reported on. 3M pledged to pay out the funds over 13 years to communities to test for and clean up PFAS in public water supplies. Construction contractors in the drinking water market will likely see more funds over time either through these suits or government programs incentivizing PFAS filtration and clean up.
This also comes on the heels of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releasing their National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives (NECIs) which adds PFAS to its national enforcement priorities. AGC is concerned because trace amounts of PFAS can even be found on greenfield sites absent of development or industry. Furthermore, PFAS would not likely have been included in the very site assessments that increase awareness of possible site contamination—meaning a contractor could be blind to their liability threats. EPA’s proposed approach means that innocent contractors could be liable across their entire project portfolio. As always, AGC will keep you updated on the latest.
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