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Minnesota attorney general files lawsuit against 3M for years of environmental pollution

Saturday, January 01, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: 3M, pollution, health news

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(NaturalNews) Minnesota attorney general Lori Swanson is determined to hold the 3M Company, one of the world's largest multinational corporations based near St. Paul, responsible for years of environmental pollution that tainted the Mississippi River and contaminated water supplies in the east-metro area of the Twin Cities. Swanson recently filed a lawsuit against 3M requesting that the company pay for residual cleanup costs associated with the pollution it caused.

"The company caused damage to the environment," Swanson is quoted as saying in the Star Tribune. "We are simply asking, let's make it right."

For many years, 3M was dumping perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, into the environment. PFCs do not decompose, and they gradually build up in the environment over time. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) indicates that the chemicals cause brain, nervous system, and organ damage, as well as reproductive and developmental problems, autoimmune disorders, and cancer (http://www.ewg.org/chemindex/term/496).

A spokesman from 3M, however, denies the allegations. He told reporters that PFCs are "not hazardous," and that any water contaminated by the company's PFCs is below government safety thresholds.

But tell that to the numerous residents in the metro area near the 3M plant whose water wells were ruined by PFCs, or the water drilling project of the nearby city of Lake Elmo, Minn., that ultimately failed due to PFC levels that exceeded state safety thresholds. One resident told the Star Tribune that he and his wife drank PFC-contaminated well water for years without knowing it, which ultimately led to his wife dying of cancer.

Though 3M has already paid out several millions of dollars to help remediate certain aspects of the damage caused by its pollution, Swanson does not believe it is enough. If successful, her lawsuit will be one of the first to hold a large corporation responsible for damage it caused to the environment many years prior.

Sources for this story include:

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