The State of Alaska sued over thirty chemical compound manufacturers Wednesday after it was discovered that the state’s groundwater was being contaminated by toxic chemicals.
The 38-page complaint alleges that the defendant companies knowingly produced highly toxic chemicals known as PFAS (which include PFOS and PFOA) and released the compounds into the environment through their products. These chemicals are manmade substances which spread quickly throughout ecosystems, are toxic at very low levels, and can take a long period of time to break down. Communities located near military bases and industrial sites bear significantly higher environmental and health risks as a result of these chemicals because the toxic substances are widely used in industrial fire extinguishers commonly found near to airports and other industrial sites.
“[Defendants bear] responsibility for the release of vast amounts of PFAS into Alaska’s environment, contaminating the State’s water resources, soils, sediments, biota and wildlife, threatening health, safety, and well-being of the State’s residents,” the complaint asserts.
Alaska argues that the defendant companies did not give proper warning on their products, suggesting that users should have been warned about the risks to the ecosystem and instructed on safer handling and disposal of the substances.
One of the largest companies named in the lawsuit, 3M, responded in a statement to the Associated Press on Friday, saying “3M acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS, including aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), and will vigorously defend our record of environmental stewardship.”
Dupont and Chemours were also among the thirty named chemical-making company defendants in the suit.
Alaska’s lawsuit comes the same day that State Senator Jesse Kiehl (D-Juneau) introduced new legislation aimed at making polluters responsible for cleanup and costs incurred by state residents affected by the use of PFAS substances.