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Alaska files lawsuit against toxic chemical producers

April 9, 2021 GMT

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska officials have filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of toxic, man-made “forever chemicals” that have been detected in some of the state’s groundwater.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday names large chemical-making corporations such as 3M, DuPont and others for the production of two, toxic compounds that were commonly contained in firefighting foams used at airports to prevent fuel fires.

Those compounds are known as PFOS and PFOA, CoastAlaska reported. The chemicals are part of a class of chemicals known as PFAS.

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Alaska’s Energy Desk reported that there is evidence the contaminants are linked to cancer, thyroid problems and other negative health effects.

“3M acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS, including aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), and will vigorously defend our record of environmental stewardship,” the company said in a statement released to The Associated Press on Friday. DuPont did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The toxic chemicals have been found in communities such as Gustavus and Yakutat. Alaska’s Energy Desk reported that more than a dozen households in Gustavus have been drinking bottled water for years after learning that their wells were poisoned with PFAS.

The 38-page legal complaint filed on behalf of Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor said that for decades, the companies named knowingly produced the chemicals, which do not break down, are highly soluble and easily spread in groundwater, Coast Alaska reported.

“Defendants, by their actions and/or inactions, bear ultimate responsibility for the release of vast amounts of PFOS and PFOA into Alaska’s environment, contaminating the state’s water resources, soils, sediments, biota and wildlife, threatening the health, safety, and well-being of the state’s residents,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit came on the same day a PFAS-related bill that would expand the number of PFAS compounds currently regulated by the state was filed by Democratic state Sen. Jesse Kiehl.

“It sets a much more protective standard based on good science than what the state has in place right now,” Kiehl said.

The bill would also require alleged PFAS polluters to pay for clean drinking water and blood tests for the state residents they affect.