Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced that the State of Vermont has taken a major environmental action to protect Vermont’s drinking water and natural resources by filing two lawsuits against companies for the manufacturing and distribution of PFAS chemicals and PFAS-containing products in Vermont. The lawsuits name the 3M Company (3M) and E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) and related DuPont companies as the major chemical makers who manufactured and distributed PFAS chemicals and related products.
“This is about making Vermont whole, by making the responsible parties pay to remove their toxic chemicals from Vermont’s groundwater and other resources,” said Attorney General Donovan. “These lawsuits are against the companies that invented, made, and sold PFAS chemicals and related products. For decades, they knew these chemicals were harmful and gave no notice to the public. We’re taking this action to protect Vermonters and our environment by holding these companies responsible for the environmental harms they caused.”
“I appreciate all of the work the Agency of Natural Resources has put into this effort in cooperation with the Attorney General’s office,” said Governor Scott. “As we begin to implement Act 21 (S.49), we expect to find concentrations of PFAS requiring additional response work. I believe the manufacturers of these chemicals – who continued to profit from their sale long after knowing the potential harm – should be held financially responsible for their negative impact on Vermonters,” Governor Scott added.
The State filed two lawsuits in the Vermont Superior Court, Chittenden Civil Division on Wednesday. The lawsuits seek damages for state-wide harm to Vermont’s drinking water and natural resources, including groundwater, surface waters, and wildlife. 3M and DuPont are the primary manufacturers of PFAS chemicals, a family of chemicals which includes PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, PFHpA and PFOA, the chemical that has been the contaminant of concern in Bennington since 2016. One of the lawsuits specifically focuses on harms caused by PFAS-containing AFFF, a firefighting foam. The harmful health effects of PFAS include links to kidney and testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, and adverse effects on fetal development during pregnancy, the liver, the immune system, the thyroid, and cholesterol levels.
On behalf of the Bennington Legislative Delegation, Bennington Senators Richard Sears and Brian Campion issued the following statement in support of the State’s lawsuits:
“We applaud the filing of these lawsuits by the State. The creators of these chemicals have caused tremendous destruction to the environment world-wide and must be held accountable for what they have done. PFAS chemicals persist indefinitely in the environment, they are known toxicants and associated with multiple types of cancers. The residents of Bennington County have experienced first-hand the devastating impacts of such contamination. We’ve watched what happens when PFOA harms Vermonters’ health and property and we would not wish any community to experience what our community has experienced. This next phase, which the Attorney General has started, gives us hope that those who have created this nightmare will be made to be answerable. We thank the Governor, the Attorney General, the Agency of Natural Resources, and all of their teams, for taking this step to protect Vermont’s people and environment.”
3M and DuPont and its related companies are named as defendants in both lawsuits. In addition, Chemguard, Inc., Tyco Fire Products, L.P., National Foam, Inc., Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, and Kidde-Fenwal, Inc. are named as co-defendants in the AFFF firefighting foam action.
The State’s allegations against the chemical manufacturers include claims that the defendants are responsible for: damage to Vermont’s natural resources; altering the quality of Vermont’s groundwater; manufacturing and supplying defective products, and failing to warn of their hazards; creating a public nuisance; trespass upon the State’s natural resources and property; and violating the Voidable Transactions Act (DuPont and its related companies only). The State is seeking damages and other remedies to recover for the harm caused to Vermont’s environment by PFAS chemicals.
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation have provided technical and legal support to the Attorney General’s Office in all aspects of bringing the lawsuits.