Minnesota receives $850 million in 3M settlement over east metro groundwater contamination

3M Company agreed Tuesday to make an $850 million payment to the state, settling the largest environment lawsuit in Minnesota history. The money will be used to clean up contaminated water in the communities that are impacted by perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) that were used in the manufacturing of 3M products such as Teflon and Scotchguard and were dumped at sites in east metro communities.

According to Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, 3M will pay the state in a lump sum within the next two weeks. It will go into a fund to be dedicated for projects that will clean up and protect drinking water in affected communities in Saint Paul’s eastern suburbs. Details about how the money is to be used are still being worked out, but could include constructing new wells, connecting people on private wells to municipal sources of water, cleaning up existing water supplies, helping cities with sustainable drinking water, and treatment plans. $40 million is earmarked for five years to continue a 2008 agreement with the state to clean up chemicals and pay for clean drinking water in affected communities. Funds also will go toward habitat restoration and recreation, including fishing piers, trails, or wetlands.

A process will be established for deciding how to distribute and spend the money, with the Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency acting as trustees of the $850 million fund. The agencies will work with legislators, communities, and east metro residents to see that the money is invested well, and that clean drinking water is ensured.