DECATUR, Ala. — Decatur Utilities announced it has approved a settlement connected to two lawsuits over PFAs in the water supply. 3M, Daikin, Toray, BFI, and Synagro were the companies involved in the suits.
The lawsuits stemmed from PFAs found in the Decatur water supply that flowed under an abandoned landfill. According to the EPA:
- PFAS are widely used, long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time.
- Because of their widespread use and their persistence in the environment, many PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment.
- PFAS are found in water, air, fish, and soil at locations across the nation and the globe.
- Scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.
- There are thousands of PFAS chemicals, and they are found in many different consumer, commercial, and industrial products. This makes it challenging to study and assess the potential human health and environmental risks.
According to Decatur Utilities, as a result of the settlement, which was also approved by the Decatur City Council and Morgan County Commission, DU’s portion of the award will include $12.9 million in reimbursement for past and future PFAS related expenses at the Wastewater Treatment Plant as well as a $5.4 payment for additional damages. Money awarded will be used to fund future projects at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
DU General Manager Ray Hardin said those future projects will be reviewed by management and proposed to the DU board annually as part of ongoing improvements at the plant. “Given that we are already in the midst of a series of rate increases to fund SSO remediation over the next 10 years, we want to avoid any future rate actions if possible,” said Hardin. “Having these funds available for essential projects at the Wastewater Treatment Plant will help us achieve that goal.”
In July of 2020, 3M implemented a Consent Order relating to the discharge of PFAS at its Decatur facility. The required changes were overseen by ADEM. The facility will design and install additional state-of-the-art treatment technologies to help prevent PFAS from entering the environment. Additionally, the company will be implementing a water minimization program that could reduce the volume of water consumption at the Decatur facility.
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