November 3, 2023 (www.waternewswire.com) Investorideas.com, a global news source and leading investor resource covering cleantech stocks issues a new edition of the Cleantech and Climate Change Podcast.
Listen to the Podcast:
Good morning and welcome to today's podcast. Today I would like to pose the question - does the billions that companies like 3M (NYSE:MMM) and DuPont (NYSE: DD) pay in settlement for water contamination with PFAS make a difference if these chemicals are forever chemicals?
CanadianUnderwriter.com explains in simple language, "Also known as 'forever chemicals,' PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals that have chains of carbon-fluorine bonds. These bonds do not degrade easily in the environment and are incredibly difficult to break."
"PFAS is water- and oil-proof and is present in countless products: non-stick cookware, pizza boxes, popcorn bags, dental floss and water-proof cosmetics, to name a few. PFAS are also a major component in firefighting foam, which is effective in quashing grease and oil fires."
The sad truth is that in spite of the fines and settlements it continues. 3M has announced it will discontinue the use of PFAS across its product portfolio by the end of 2025.
The Washington Post reported in March, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the nation's first drinking-water standards requiring water utilities to reduce levels of PFAS - perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The key word here is 'reduce'.
ACS Publications reported that Research has suggested over 200 million Americans likely drink water contaminated with PFAS chemicals, which have been linked to a host of health issues, including cancer.
But up until now, the pollutants have only been regulated by some US states.
The US has now issued a rule that would require communities to test and treat water for six of the chemicals.
The BBC reported "Through its infrastructure law, the Biden administration has dedicated $5B to address water contaminants like PFAS, $2B of which is designated for disadvantaged communities. Still, that may not be enough."
"But while cleaning up the chemicals marks an important first step to protecting Americans' health, the most safe and cost-effective method would be to limit the manufacturing of the chemicals, experts said."
"You have to turn it off at the source," said Dr. Kwiatkowskiof of the Green Science Policy Institute, an environmental advocacy organisation.
"It doesn't make any sense to keep cleaning them out of the water if we keep putting them back in."
CanadianUnderwriter.com notes -"Nearly 15,000 synthetic chemicals qualify as PFAS, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But exposure to PFAS can have adverse health effects, like mimicking our bodies' fatty acids and disrupting hormone production or insulin regulation.
Over 6,500 PFAS lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. over the last 20 years. In June consumer goods manufacturer 3M reportedly reached a $10.3-billion settlement for its public water system contamination suit in the U.S."
On June 22, 2023, 3M Company ("3M") entered into a proposed class-action settlement ("Settlement") to resolve a wide range of drinking water claims by public water systems ("PWS") in the United States regarding any per- or poly-fluoroalkyl substance ("PFAS"), subject to court approval. Eligible class members are United States public water systems as defined in the Settlement. Subject to court approval, the Settlement would resolve a portion of 3M's PFAS-related multidistrict litigation that involves PWS drinking water claims in the United States by providing funding for treatment technologies to PWS that have tested positive for PFAS, funding for future testing, and funding for systems that test positive in the future.
Under the Settlement, class members would agree to release 3M from any claim arising out of, relating to, or involving (i) PFAS that has entered or may enter drinking water or the class member's water system; (ii) the development, manufacture, formulation, distribution, sale, transportation, storage, loading, mixing, application, or use of PFAS or any product (including aqueous film-forming foam ("AFFF")) manufactured with or containing PFAS; (iii) the transport, disposal, or arrangement for disposal of PFAS-containing waste or PFAS-containing wastewater, or a class member's use of PFAS-containing water for irrigation or manufacturing; or (iv) representations about PFAS or any product (including AFFF) manufactured with or containing PFAS. The Settlement would also require class members to release punitive- or exemplary-damages claims that arise out of conduct occurring at least in part before the Settlement's effective date and that relate to PFAS or any product (including AFFF) manufactured with or containing PFAS.
If the court approves the Settlement and all conditions in the Settlement are met, 3M will pay $10.5 billion to $12.5 billion in total to resolve the claims released by the Settlement. The Settlement calls for 3M to make payments annually from 2024 through 2036. The actual amounts that 3M will pay will be determined in part by which, if any, class members that do not have a positive test result for the presence of PFAS in their drinking water (as defined by the Settlement) as of the date of the Settlement receive such a test result by the end of 2025.
The Settlement gives 3M the option to terminate the Settlement if the numbers of eligible class members opting out of the Settlement exceed specified levels.
The Settlement provides that 3M does not admit any liability or wrongdoing and does not waive any defenses.
According to June article in Time Magazine, "As the evidence of the dangers of PFAS mounted-both from company research and independent studies-3M and DuPont began covering up what they were learning."
And to scare you more, this is not just isolated to water,
NRDC.org said in April, "Whether found in a raincoat or a pair of yoga pants, PFAS are used widely in our clothing, shoes, and accessories. These chemicals also cause pollution at every stage of production. At the PFAS chemical manufacturing facilities and garment factories, they often contaminate the air, water, and soil of the surrounding environment."
In our next podcast I will drill down on DuPont and its never ending list of lawsuits and settlements. And like the irony of other podcasts showing these serial contaminators - they too have an ESG and sustainability strategy.
ESG policy now means nothing, and they should flush it down the drains with their other toxic chemicals.
Investors don't be woke - be awake!
If you are a small company doing big things to benefit our water and our environment I would love to hear from you and tell your story.
Thanks, that's it for today. Do something good for this beautiful planet each and every day.
If you would like to be a guest on this podcast and tell your story please call me at 800 665 0411
Visit the Cleantech and Climate Change Podcast page at Investorideas.com
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