3M on Thursday said it will pay $55 million to Michigan-based Wolverine World Wide Inc. to help remediate PFAS contamination in Michigan drinking water.
The company said this sum is part of the roughly $214 million 3M estimated for its Q4 litigation charges, which includes other PFAS-related litigation, although the settlement was not reached prior to Thursday. The chemicals, known as “perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances,” have been used in everyday products, such as kitchen items and clothing. Studies have shown that PFAS may impact the immune system and increase risk of cancer, according to the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Wolverine filed a third-party complaint against 3M over its Scotchgard water and stain repellent product, which were said to contain PFAS. Wolverine used Scotchgard to manufacture shoes. The Michigan company then disposed of the tannery sludge into unlined landfills.
The settlement comes in the wake of a lawsuit between Wolverine and the state of Michigan over the shoe company’s disposal of industrial waste leaching PFAS into groundwater. Wolverine is set to pay $69.5 million over several years, which will go towards extending municipal water systems to homes impacted by the pollution in Kent County, Michigan, according to a 3M press release. The settlement money from the Wolverine-3M lawsuit, which is to be paid in a lump sum this year, will also go towards these efforts and offset the cost to Wolverine.
“This agreement will support Wolverine’s work with the state of Michigan to conduct previously announced and continuing investigation and remediation activities, which will improve water infrastructure and treatment in certain communities in western Michigan,” said John Banovetz, 3M’s senior vice president, in the release.
Going forward, 3M will not be held responsible for any further costs associated with Wolverine’s Consent Decree, which was a result of the litigation between Michigan, several counties, and Wolverine.
Additional lawsuits are in the works over PFAS pollution. 3M declined to make any further comment.