SL Environmental Law Group has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Water Replenishment District (WRD) against 3M Company, E.I. DuPont de Nemours, Inc., and other manufacturers of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) for their involvement in the manufacture and sale of per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) that have contaminated groundwater supplies within WRD’s service area, which includes 43 cities and covers a 420-square-mile region of southern Los Angeles County.
John D.S. Allen, President of the Board of Directors of the Water Replenishment District, said, “WRD is working with the water systems throughout its service area to identify and treat wells that have been contaminated with PFAS to ensure the safety of these crucial water supplies. Through this lawsuit, WRD is seeking to protect the ratepayers in our service area and ensure that the costs of cleaning up these contaminants are borne by 3M, DuPont, and the other companies that sold and profited from their products containing PFAS.”
PFAS are persistent toxic chemicals that bioaccumulate when released into the environment. Exposure to certain PFAS have been associated with several negative health outcomes in both humans and animals. PFAS has impacted surface water and groundwater throughout the country resulting in hundreds of similar suits brought forward by water providers, and mostly against the same defendants, in an ongoing Multidistrict Litigation supervised by a federal judge in South Carolina.
PFAS have been used for decades in AFFF, certain industrial processes, and in the production of thousands of common household and commercial products that are heat resistant, stain resistant, long lasting, and water and oil repellant. The PFAS family of chemicals are entirely man-made and do not exist in nature.
“The manufacturers and sellers of PFAS containing products–3M, DuPont, and other defendants–knew that these products would likely pollute groundwater, yet they failed to take reasonable and available steps to avoid the use of PFAS in products and failed to provide warnings that using these products as directed could result in groundwater contamination,” said Ken Sansone, partner at SL Environmental Law Group. “Through this lawsuit, WRD is asserting its rights under California law to ensure the quality and availability of water resources to the millions of citizens and businesses who rely on those resources. WRD wants to ensure that it is the corporations whose products are responsible for contaminating its water pay the substantial costs of cleaning it up.”
SL Environmental Law is handling WRD’s case as part of a consortium of law firms that has decades of experience representing municipalities and other water providers across the nation in efforts to recover the costs of treating groundwater contamination from the corporations whose products caused the contamination. This group of firms is representing many of the water systems within WRD’s service area, as well as many other water systems throughout southern California and across the country, affected by PFAS. Francisco Leal and Ana Maria Quintana, of Leal Trejo in Long Beach, California, serve as District counsel in coordinating the litigation efforts.
The Water Replenishment District (WRD) has managed and protected groundwater resources for over 60 years. WRD manages two of the most utilized groundwater basins that provide nearly half of the drinking water for over 4 million residents in 43 cities of southern Los Angeles County. Through WRD’s Water Independence Now (WIN) Program, the District has developed a resilient and locally sustainable source of water for groundwater replenishment. For more information visit www.wrd.org.