The National Rural Water Association filed a lawsuit last week on behalf its members now dealing with unregulated chemicals in their drinking water. The NRWA, represented by Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, is a non-profit organization dedicated to training, supporting, and promoting the water and wastewater professionals that serve small communities across the United States.
The lawsuit seeks money for testing and treatment along with other damages and penalties from the chemical manufacturers, The 3M Co., Tyco Fire Products L.P., National Foam, Inc., Buckeye Fire Protection, Chemguard, E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Company and The Chemours Company. These manufactures developed, marketed, and sold perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate ("PFAS") that can be found in products such as firefighting foam, household and food products, industrial sites as well as landfills across the country.
The NRWA devotes substantial time to train and assist 49 affiliated State Rural Water Associations, that currently have over 31,000 utility system members. The NRWA and its members will be forced to expend significant resources to test and remediate groundwater contamination by virtue of defendants' past practice of allowing hazardous chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate ("PFAS"), to be released into the groundwater.
Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) is used for fire suppression, particularly at municipal airports and Air Force bases for training purposes and to combat jet fuel spills. However, many AFFF products contain PFAS. PFAS contamination also results from carpet, metal plating, paper, plastics, and textiles manufacturing. Human exposure to these toxic substances, through use or contaminated drinking water, can lead to an increased risk for testicular cancer, kidney cancer, serious thyroid problems or ulcerative colitis.
"The corporations we're suing knew full well the health and environmental risks associated with PFAS. It should not be up to NRWA members across the country to pay the extensive costs to test, treat, and remediate these contaminants," said Paul J. Napoli. "These companies betrayed the people. They knew the harm their products could cause yet hid this from both the government and the public, leaving many to pay for the consequences," he continued.
Filed in D.C., the five-count complaint alleges that the defendant companies manufactured, marketed and sold their AFFF products for decades despite knowing the significant threat they posed to the environment and human health. "This is about small-town America and how these poisonous chemicals are destroying them," adds Hank J. Naughton, Of Counsel to Napoli Shkolnik.
There is uncertainty across the country as to how communities can afford to test and treat PFAS contamination in the absence of certain State or Federal standards. This lawsuit could provide a mechanism for addressing and resolving those concerns so costs to investigate and remediate are not borne by the American taxpayers. We strongly encourage you to contact the NRWA or Napoli Shkolnik PLLC for more information on how to become involved in this litigation.