Met Council Considers Legal Options Against 3M

The Metropolitan Council, which oversees wastewater plants in the metro area that send water into the Mississippi River, reportedly believes that proposed state regulations could cost it millions of dollars-and says 3M should have to pay for some or all of the costs because the company's practices led to the new rule.

The Metropolitan Council is reportedly weighing legal options it may pursue against Maplewood-based 3M Company over the cost of meeting proposed state requirements for certain chemical discharges.

The federal Clean Water Act requires that the state clean up impaired waters like the Mississippi River-and it led the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to propose strict limits on the amount of perfluorochemicals that can be discharged from wastewater treatment plants, according to a report by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR).

The Met Council oversees wastewater plants in the metro area that send water into the Mississippi River. To comply with the rule, the Met Council says it will need to spend about $500 million to retrofit a wastewater treatment plant, plus an additional $45 million in operating costs, MPR reported. The Met Council believes that 3M should pay for some or all of the costs because the company's practices led to the new regulations-and it has formally asked its lawyers to explore legal options against 3M.

3M made and used perfluorochemicals in the production of several consumer, commercial, and industrial products, including at its manufacturing plant in Cottage Grove. It stopped producing them in Minnesota in 2002 following negotiations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit last December demanding that 3M pay the state for damage caused by its disposal of perfluorochemicals. Met Council Chairwoman Susan Haigh told MPR that the council may decide to join the state's lawsuit or pursue separate legal action.

3M spokesman Bill Nelson told MPR that 3M has stopped making and using perfluorochemicals and noted that other manufacturers are still using the materials. He said the company won't comment further on the matter until it's officially informed of the Met Council's plans.

To learn more about perfluorochemicals, the proposed state regulations, and the legal options being considered by the Met Council, read the full MPR story here.