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Scottsdale City Council seeks damages from Dupont and 3M for AFFF water resource contamination

photo of Scottsdale City Council lawsuit
A view of a firefighter using aqueous film-forming foam or AFFF, which is used as a fire suppressant due to the unique chemical compounds — confirmed to be harmful to human beings — found within the substance. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)

Scottsdale City Council seeks portion of water contamination suit

By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

Scottsdale City Council is moving forward with seeking damages from Dupont and 3M for water resource contamination sustained to the municipal water supply through the usage of firefighting products coined, ‘aqueous film forming foam,’ which is deployed to fight liquid-fueled fires.

Emboldened through Resolution No. 12997, and approved in late November 2023, Scottsdale City Council has agreed to participate in settlement agreements with defendants DuPont and 3M, manufactures of aqueous film-forming foam or AFFF.

Aqueous film-forming foam or AFFF is a fire suppressant used when water is ineffective whereas various chemicals found in the product are now known to be toxic and carcinogenic with negative health consequences for American firefighters.

Earlier this summer, Scottsdale City Council retained the law firms of Baron & Budd, P.C., Cossich, Sumich, Parsiola & Taylor LLC, and the Law Office of Joseph C. Tann, PLLC in order to pursue damages, compensation, and other relief against the manufacturers of AFFF and/or other products containing PFAS, and any other related compounds.

Multiple lawsuits filed around the country have been consolidated in the United States District Court in South Carolina, Scottsdale legal professional report.

“The District Court of South Carolina has granted preliminary approval of class settlements with two defendants, 3M and DuPont,” Scottsdale City Attorney Sherry Scott told City Council in her Nov. 20 City Council report.

“The District Court further established deadlines of Dec. 4, 2024 and Dec. 11, 2024 for opting out of the DuPont and 3M settlements respectively. If the city does not opt out of either or both settlements, the city will remain a class member. As a class member, the city will be required to file damage claims in the Spring of 2024. The city may also file supplemental claims for the next seven years if additional water sources become contaminated with PFOA and PFOS above the maximum contaminant level.”

Ms. Scott points out the municipality is within its legal right to file an additional special needs claim to recoup a portion of public dollars already spent to address PFAS contamination in Scottsdale water resources.

“The settlements approved $10.5 billion to settle claims against 3M and $1.185 billion to settle claims against DuPont,” Ms. Scott said in her report. “The actual amount of monies received by the city is dependent upon the number of public water systems throughout the United States that remain class members.”

While the city of Scottsdale remains a class member of the settlement case the amount of restitution to be paid will be based on the amount of PFAS contamination in the system and the amount of water that flows through the municipal system, City Hall officials report.

“The DuPont settlement will be paid in one payment,” Ms. Scott said. “The 3M settlement will be paid over a period often years. The 3M payments will be front-loaded, with the largest two payments to be deposited with the claims administrator in July of 2024 and 2025, and smaller payments to be made annually thereafter.”

Ms. Scott says Scottsdale Water leaders have sampled both surface and groundwater to determine the level of contamination present in water supplies.

“Staff from the City Attorney’s Office and Water Resources Division have provided the PFAS sampling results along with the flow rate data for each well and the CAP water Treatment Plant and the Chaparral Water Treatment Plant to the city’s outside legal counsel in order for claims to be filed,” she said.

Water contamination is not a new issue for the community of Scottsdale as in 1981 groundwater was contaminated by industrial chemicals, primarily trichloroethylene, which was put there by Motorola Solutions (formerly Motorola, Inc.), GlaxoSmithKline (formerly SmithKline Beecham) and SMI Holding LLC (formerly Siemens), super fund designations state.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared the contaminated aquifer a Superfund site, namely the North Indian Bend Wash Superfund Site, in 1983.

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