Court gives final approval to 3M ‘forever chemicals’ settlement

Published 6:06 am Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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A federal judge has approved 3M’s more-than-$10 billion settlement with drinking water suppliers over contamination from so-called “forever chemicals.”

The settlement, first announced last year, resolves class-action lawsuits filed by public water suppliers over per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

The human-made chemicals have been widely used in a variety of products, and don’t break down in the environment. Some have contaminated water supplies across the country and are linked to serious health issues.

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3M’s proposed settlement had drawn some pushback last year, including concerns from more than 20 state attorneys general. But those officials dropped their objections after their concerns were addressed — and late last week, the U.S. District Court in Charleston, S.C., gave final approval to the agreement.

“This is yet another important step forward for 3M as we continue to deliver on our priorities. The final approval of this settlement and continued progress toward exiting all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025 will further our efforts to reduce risk and uncertainty as we move forward,” 3M chairman and CEO Mike Roman said in a news release Monday.

3M will pay up to $10.3 billion over 13 years to public water utilities. The money will help them pay for PFAS testing, remediation and treatment technology. The payments are set to begin later this year.

The Maplewood-based company previously said it plans to stop manufacturing PFAS by the end of 2025.

In 2018, 3M reached an $850 million settlement with the state of Minnesota over PFAS contamination in the east Twin Cities metro.

3M spinoff complete

Also Monday, 3M announced that it has completed the long-planned spinoff of its health care business.

That spinoff is now a separate company called Solventum — 3M said that’s a combination of the words “solving” and “momentum.” It started trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

Solventum has about 22,000 employees — including close to 1,200 in the St. Paul area. It includes what had been 3M’s wound and oral care products, health care IT and biopharma filtration business.

3M shareholders received one share of Solventum stock for every four shares of 3M stock. 3M is retaining ownership of about 20 percent of the new company, to start.