LaGrange to opt out of PFAS class-action lawsuit

Published 9:00 am Saturday, November 18, 2023

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The City of LaGrange is planning to opt out of an ongoing class-action lawsuit against Dupont and 3M related to trace chemicals in the water.

As previously reported, LaGrange is among 11 water systems in Georgia out of 52 tested that were found to be positive for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The chemicals are commonly called “forever chemicals” for their ability to resist breaking down in the body and environment and potentially have negative health effects at high concentrations.

Although the water in LaGrange did test positive for the potentially harmful chemicals, it did so in extremely trace amounts, around 4 parts per trillion. City staff compared the concentration to a drop in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools, saying LaGrange’s water is safe.

PFASs are used in a wide range of products, including non-stick cookware, which has led 3M, Dupont and others to attempt to settle class action claims against the companies accusing them of contaminating water supplies. The proposed settlements are reportedly worth more than $11 billion, according to Reuters.

Because of the extreme costs expected to filter the chemicals from the water supply to undetermined EPA-acceptable levels, many cities and other water systems have objected to the settlement.

City Attorney Jeff Todd explained during the LaGrange City Council meeting on Tuesday that there is an ongoing class-action lawsuit against DuPont and 3M on behalf of water systems in the United States, seeking to recover costs that may be required to treat water to what will ultimately be determined to be an acceptable level of PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

“While the city’s initial tests have shown they are within the expected EPA tolerance, there’s not enough information currently to estimate what costs might be needed might be incurred down the road, “ Todd said.

Due to this, city staff recommended authorizing the city manager to opt out of the DuPont-3M class action suit, which would reserve the city’s right to take independent action in the future if deemed necessary.

The council unanimously approved the recommendation.