Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today sued 21 companies – including DuPont and 3M – involved in the manufacture of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) and its components, alleging their legal responsibility for PFAS contamination in Oregon caused by AFFF.
PFAS is the common term for “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.” These chemicals are used in firefighting foam, often on military bases and at commercial airports. They are also found in household products like nonstick pans, food packaging, waterproof jackets, carpets, and more.
PFAS doesn’t easily break down; it can persist in the human body and in the environment for decades. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that exposure to PFAS may lead to significant negative health effects, including but not limited to:
- decreased fertility and preeclampsia/increased high blood pressure in pregnant women;
- adverse developmental effects in children such as low birth weight, accelerated puberty, bone variations, and behavioral changes;
- increased risk of certain cancers, including kidney and testicular cancers;
- reduced ability of the body’s immune system to fight infections, including reduced vaccine response;
- interference with the body’s natural hormones; increased ulcerative colitis; increased thyroid disease; and,
- increased medically high cholesterol and/or risk of obesity.
“We intend to prove these defendants knew for decades that PFAS – and, particularly, PFAS-containing fire-fighting foam – is dangerous to human health and to the environment,” said AG Rosenblum. “They have profited mightily from their flagrant disregard for the health and safety of Oregonians and our natural resources. Defendants’ actions have caused these toxic and persistent “forever chemicals” to contaminate our pristine state and will require significant expense to investigate, treat, and remediate. We will not let them off the hook.”
The lawsuit details a range of impacts across the state attributable to the defendants’ role in bringing PFAS-containing AFFF to Oregon, including dramatic levels of PFAS contamination at both Portland International Airport and Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base in Klamath Falls.
The State asserts claims against the defendants for public nuisance, trespass, equitable indemnity and unjust enrichment, among others. The lawsuit also alleges that, through a series of corporate restructurings, DuPont fraudulently transferred its valuable assets in order to separate them from its billions of dollars of environmental liabilities, including those related to contamination caused by AFFF in Oregon.
In its request for relief, the State has asked the court to order Defendants to remove and remediate Defendants’ AFFF-related PFAS contamination on all lands and all waters that the State owns, possesses, controls, or holds in trust for the benefit of the public; order restitution; and award damages in an amount be proven at trial. The State further requests compensation for all past and future costs that have been or could be expended by the State or public for the investigation, testing, treatment, remediation and restoration of drinking water impacted by AFFF-related PFAS contamination across Oregon.
A copy of the filed complaint can be found here.