Massachusetts town files suit over PFAS contamination

The Town of Wayland, Massachusetts, has announced it has filed a lawsuit against multiple manufacturers of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) for their involvement in the manufacture and sale of products containing per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The defendants in the lawsuit are 3M Company, E.I. DuPont de Nemours, Inc., and other manufacturers. The lawsuit alleges that their products have contributed to PFAS contamination in groundwater supplies within the town’s service area.

The lawsuit seeks damages for the municipal cost of treatments to address and mitigate PFAS in the water supply.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS and GenX chemicals. These chemicals have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe since the 1940s for heat-resistant, stain-resistant, long-lasting, oil and water-resistant and non-stick products. PFAS have been used for decades in the production of AFFF.

“Through this lawsuit, we are seeking to protect our residents and ensure that the costs of cleaning up these contaminants in town are borne by companies that sold and profited from products containing these dangerous chemicals,” Department of Public Works Director Thomas Holder. “This lawsuit is another step in our overall mission of providing our community with safe and high-quality drinking water that meets all federal and state standards.”

PFAS are often found in drinking water, but people are also exposed to the chemicals through consumer products and food. Prolonged exposure to certain PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.

PFAS was originally detected in all four of the town’s water sources in January 2021. Though all sources showed detectable PFAS levels, only the Happy Hollow wellfield had levels higher than acceptable under the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s standards. In response, the town implemented a resin-based PFAS treatment system in June 2022. Due to the system, the Happy Hollow wellfield now shows non-detectable PFAS levels, leading to compliant levels across the town.

SL Environmental Law Group is representing the town in this case. SL Environmental Law Group is part of a team of law firms that has decades of experience representing municipalities and other water providers across the nation in efforts to recover the costs of treating groundwater contamination from the corporations whose products have caused contamination. This group of firms is representing many other water systems in similar lawsuits in Massachusetts, as well as more than 100 water systems across the country, affected by PFAS. 

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