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3M Whidbey Island Firefighting Foam and Water Contamination Class Action

This class action is one of several now pending concerning toxic firefighting chemicals that have found their way into community water supplies. In this case as in others, the defendants are the makers of the foam: 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products, LP, Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, Chemguard, Inc., and National Foam, Inc.

Two classes have been proposed for this class action. 

  • The Property Damage Class is all individuals or entities who own real property within twenty miles of the service area of the Town of Coupeville water supply or any private, individual or community water well that tested positive for PFAS contamination. 
  • The Medical Monitoring Class is all individuals who are or were residents, including part-time residents, of Whidbey Island who, after 1970, consumed water from the Town of Coupeville water supply or a water system or subsystem on Whidbey Island that tested positive for PFAS contamination, including individual or community wells.

Whidbey Island is about thirty miles north of Seattle. It houses about 80,000 people plus the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) and the Naval Outlying Landing Field Coupeville (NOLF). 

At the two naval facilities, since the 1970s, military firefighters have put out fires and undergone firefighting training using aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). 

Unfortunately, AFFF contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFASs, including PFOA and PFOS. These toxic substances do not degrade much and can travel through soil, air, groundwater. The complaint says, “As a result, significant portions of the water supply and soil on Whidbey Island are contaminated with PFASs, exposing residents to significant health risks and devaluing their lands.” The toxic substances bio-accumulate in human and animal bodies. 

According to the complaint, “3M studies from the 1970s concluded that PFASs were even more toxic than previously believed, but [3M] intentionally concealed this information from the public.” 

Although some foam makers committed to reduce “the content and facility emissions” of PFOA and other chemicals by 2010, the complaint claims that they have cheated: “Though marketed as environmentally responsible, this new foam contains PFAS chemicals based on a lower number of atoms in the carbon chains…. While some of these shorter compounds exit the human body more quickly than their predecessors, they still accumulate in blood, organs, and tissues.” 

People can take in PFASs by absorbing them through the skin, drinking contaminated water, or eating contaminated food, such as area fish and shellfish. The complaint says that PFASs are associated with kidney and testicular cancer, decreased birth weight, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, harm to fetal development, and other conditions. 

Water samples taken by the Navy in 2017 and 2018 show a number of areas with contaminated water supplies that exceed the minimum risk levels recommended by the EPA.

The complaint charges the companies with negligence, product liability, and trespass, among other things.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Environmental

Most Recent Case Event

3M Whidbey Island Firefighting Foam and Water Contamination Complaint

February 5, 2019

This class action is one of several now pending concerning toxic firefighting chemicals that have found their way into community water supplies. In this case as in others, the defendants are the makers of the foam: 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products, LP, Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, Chemguard, Inc., and National Foam, Inc.

3m_firefighting_foam_complaint.pdf

Case Event History

3M Whidbey Island Firefighting Foam and Water Contamination Complaint

February 5, 2019

This class action is one of several now pending concerning toxic firefighting chemicals that have found their way into community water supplies. In this case as in others, the defendants are the makers of the foam: 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products, LP, Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, Chemguard, Inc., and National Foam, Inc.

3m_firefighting_foam_complaint.pdf
Tags: Contaminated Water/Groundwater, Environmental, Environmental Contamination