© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The 3M logo is seen at its global headquarters in Maplewood, Minnesota, U.S. on March 4, 2020. The company has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra masks in response to the country’s novel coronavirus outbreak. REUTERS/Ni
By Clark Mindock and Brendan Pierson
(Reuters) – 3M Co has struck a tentative settlement of at least $10 billion with a host of U.S. cities and towns to resolve water pollution claims tied to “forever chemicals,” Bloomberg News reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Shares of 3M were up 8.4% at $102.16 on Friday afternoon.
Reuters could not immediately confirm the report. A 3M spokesperson said the company “does not comment on rumors or speculation.”
Hours earlier, chemical companies including Chemours Co, DuPont de Nemours (NYSE:) Inc and Corteva (NYSE:) Inc reached an agreement in principle for $1.19 billion to settle claims that they contaminated U.S. public water systems with the potentially harmful chemicals.
3M was scheduled to face trial on Monday against the City of Stuart, Florida. It was not immediately clear whether the trial will proceed.
Stuart claims that company made or sold firefighting foams containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, despite knowing for decades that the chemicals can cause cancer and other ailments. The city has said it is seeking more than $100 million from 3M to pay for water filtration and soil remediation.
3M has said in court documents that PFAS have not been linked with health problems at the levels being discovered in drinking water.
Stuart’s lawsuit is one of more than 4,000 filed against 3M and other chemical companies by local municipalities, state governments and individuals from across the U.S. that have been consolidated in federal court in South Carolina. The Stuart case was selected as the first “bellwether” or test case in that litigation.
3M in December set a 2025 deadline to stop producing PFAS – used in everything from cell phones to semiconductors – amid increasing legal scrutiny on the substances that are commonly called “forever chemicals” because they do not easily break down in the human body or environment.
Litigation over them threatens companies like 3M, DuPont and others with billions of dollars in liabilities.
Stuart, a coastal city of about 20,000 people roughly 40 miles (64 km) north of West Palm Beach, Florida, sued 3M and others in 2018. The city claims firefighting foams containing PFAS were regularly sprayed at a local fire station, leading the chemicals to seep into the groundwater.