Wisconsin AG sues 18 companies over PFAS contamination

Jul 20, 2022, 8:40 AM | Updated: 3:01 pm

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to force nearly 20 companies that he alleges contaminated the environment with chemicals known as PFAS to reimburse the state for investigations and cleanup efforts.

The lawsuit, filed in Dane County circuit court, names 18 companies as defendants, including 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products LP, and BASF Corporation. The filing alleges the defendants knew or should have known that their products would have a dangerous impact on the public’s health and environment.

The lawsuit seeks punitive damages as well as reimbursement for the costs of investigations, cleanup and remediation.

“To this day, the State continues to take necessary actions to protect its natural resources and its residents from harm caused by PFAS contamination,” the lawsuit states. “The State and its taxpayers will need to spend billions of dollars remediating the dangerous PFAS contamination caused by Defendants’ wrongful, deceptive and tortious conduct.”

3M communications manager Sean Lynch said in a statement the company acted responsibly and will “vigorously defend its record of environmental stewardship.” Roberto Nelson, a spokesman for BASF, said the company doesn’t believe the lawsuit has merit. Tyco spokeswoman Karen Marie Tognarelli said in a statement that the company is working to clean up PFAS contamination and the lawsuit won’t stop it from “doing the right thing and leading on the PFAS clean up.”

PFAS is an abbreviation for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The chemicals were developed as coatings to protect consumer goods from stains, water and corrosion. Nonstick cookware, carpets, outdoor gear and food packaging are among items that contain the chemicals. They also are an ingredient in firefighting foams.

They’re often described as “forever chemicals” because some don’t degrade naturally and are believed to be capable of lingering indefinitely in the environment. Research suggests that they may cause health problems in humans.

PFAS contamination is a widespread problem in Wisconsin. A host of communities, including Marinette, the town of Campbell on French Island, Madison and Wausau have discovered the chemicals in their water.

The state Department of Natural Resources’ policy board adopted limits on PFAS in drinking and surface water in February. The board refused to impose limits for groundwater, leaving the chemicals unregulated in wells.

Kaul, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit in Marinette County in March against Johnson Controls and Tyco Fire Products alleging their firefighting foam led to PFAS contamination in the area. That lawsuit is still pending.

The new filing comes as Kaul faces what could be a bruising reelection bid this fall. Three Republicans — Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney, former state Rep. Adam Jarchow and attorney Karen Mueller — are looking to take his job. The GOP primary is Aug. 9 and the general election is Nov. 8.

Tyco’s Tognarelli said in her statement that the lawsuit “appears to be about politics and a fast approaching election more than it is about public health or the environment.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer speaks inside the Recorders Office, Nov. 9, 2022, in...
Associated Press

Dominion conspiracies highlighted by Fox lawsuit have election officials concerned for safety

Maricopa County officials are bracing for what could happen when it comes time to replace its contract for voting equipment.
1 day ago
A building is damaged and trees are down after severe storm swept through Little Rock, Ark., Friday...
Associated Press

Tornado causes widespread damage to buildings, vehicles in Little Rock

A tornado raced through Little Rock and surrounding areas Friday, splintering homes, overturning vehicles and tossing trees.
1 day ago
FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks with reporters while in flight on his plane after a cam...
Associated Press

Worries grow that Trump indictment could undermine public confidence in other investigations

Trump’s attempts to overturn those results amid false claims of widespread fraud are at the heart of two other ongoing investigations.
1 day ago
(Facebook Photo/Superior Court of Arizona in Yavapai County)...
Associated Press

Arizona judge has cases reassigned following DUI arrest

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that all cases currently assigned to a Yavapai County Superior Court judge recently arrested on suspicion of extreme DUI will be reassigned to other judges.
5 days ago
Haitian migrant Gerson Solay, 28, carries his daughter, Bianca, as he and his family cross into Can...
Associated Press

US, Canada to end loophole that allows asylum-seekers to move between countries

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement.
8 days ago
Expert skateboarder Di'Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and...
Associated Press

Indigenous skateboard art featured on new stamps unveiled at Phoenix skate park

The Postal Service unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard" stamps at a Phoenix skate park, featuring designs from Indigenous artists.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...
Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Wisconsin AG sues 18 companies over PFAS contamination