3M Co. will pay $55 million to settle a PFAS water-contamination lawsuit brought by the Michigan maker of Hush Puppies shoes.
The agreement announced Thursday after the markets closed will "resolve all legal claims" between 3M and Wolverine World Wide Inc. and will be used, 3M said, to address PFAS chemicals found in the environment in communities near a waste-disposal site in Belmont, Mich.
Separately, Wolverine issued a statement Thursday saying it agreed to pay $113 million to settle PFAS contamination claims against Wolverine in Michigan. That money will be used to extend water pipes into Plainfield and Algoma townships in Michigan.
The 3M money will help improve water infrastructure and treatment, said John Banovetz, 3M's chief technology officer.
In January 2018, the state of Michigan sued Wolverine for environmental contamination after PFAS chemicals were found in the soil, groundwater and drinking water near the Belmont waste-disposal site that Wolverine used for years. In December 2018, Wolverine sued 3M, alleging that 3M failed to notify customers that PFAS were a risk to the environment.
3M announced the settlement the same day the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its intention to regulate PFOA and PFOS, two of the most prolific PFAS. The EPA will now seek comments on its proposal.
PFAS is a class of chemicals used in everything from firefighter foam to nonstick coating on pans and is made by several companies, including Maplewood-based 3M. Wolverine bought the chemicals for 40 years to waterproof its shoes.
PFAS are called "forever chemicals" because they stay in the environment and have been found in soil, groundwater, rivers and military bases across the country.
The 3M settlement is small compared with the $850 million 3M agreed to pay to the state of Minnesota in February 2018 for PFAS contamination found in or near 3M's factory in Cottage Grove and disposal sites in Cottage Grove, Woodbury, Oakdale and Lake Elmo.
There are more than 186 PFAS-related lawsuits against 3M, which has made the chemicals for roughly 70 years.
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725