Colorado sues to try to force cleanup of chemicals in foam

February 28, 2022 GMT

DENVER (AP) — Colorado is suing 15 companies in an effort to try to force them to pay for cleaning up contamination caused by firefighting foam that contains long-lasting chemicals associated with serious health conditions.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in state court in Denver by Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser, names companies associated with chemical giant DuPont as well as other firms as defendants. It claims they knew or should have known that aqueous film forming foam, or AFFF, which is mainly used to fight fuel and and flammable liquid fires, contain PFAS, known as “forever chemicals” because they persist in the environment and can accumulate in organisms, including people.

The chemicals are used in a products ranging from cookware to carpets and have been increasingly showing up in drinking water systems and wells as well as food. They have been associated with health problems including cancer and reduced birth weight. Last year, the EPA announced a new strategy to regulate them.

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Dan Turner, a spokesperson for DuPont de Nemours, which was established in 2019, said the company has never manufactured or sold AFFF and the lawsuit was without merit. In a statement, Corteva, an independent public company that was previously the agriculture division of DowDuPont, said it does not make or sell any PFAS substances, including the firefighting foam described in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says that the original DuPont company primarily made and sold the firefighting foam, not the other companies created later that inherited its assets. However, it alleges that the creation of those companies and the transfer of DuPont’s assets to them was part of a scheme to prevent those hurt by its products from being able to recover the costs of the damage caused by the foam.

According to the lawsuit, the firefighting foam has been sold to military installations in Colorado, including the U.S. Air Force Academy and Peterson Air Force Base; state and local governments, fire departments; and private entities. PFAS has been detected in soil, surface water, groundwater around Colorado, including in 50 of the state’s 64 counties, it said.