DECATUR, Ala.- Thursday, the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority addressed concerns from the public about the area’s drinking water, advising residents not to drink its water.
Water authority officials also addressed immediate and long-term plans to make the drinking water safe, as well as pending litigation against 3M.
3M responded to the water authority’s concerns, saying it voluntarily stopped production of the chemicals more than a decade ago – long before its competitors or any legislation requiring it to do so. It no longer manufacturers these chemicals in Decatur and has worked closely with local regulators to remove the materials from the environment, a company spokesperson said.
3M wanted to target three key topic areas concerning this water concern:
1) Health effects statements from Carol A. Ley, MD, Vice President and Corporate Medical Director, 3M Medical Department:
- “Although we support the work of the EPA and other regulators, we believe these advisory levels are overly conservative.”“We believe that PFOS and PFOA do not present health risks at levels they are typically found in the environment or in human blood.”“This view is informed by decades of testing our production workers who were exposed to these chemicals at levels that were many times greater than the general population – often over an extended period of time. Those workers show no adverse health effects from PFC exposure.
2) Legal claims statements from William Brewer, Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors, and counsel to 3M:
- “3M’s activities in connection with these materials were not only fully permitted but entirely appropriate,” says William A. Brewer III, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors, and counsel to 3M. “In any event, we believe the claims against 3M – and recent actions taken by the water authority – are based upon the mistaken belief that the mere presence of these chemicals equals harm.”“3M believes the claims from the water authority lack merit. We are unaware of any harm to personal property or human health due to the mere environmental presence of these materials.”“The new drinking water advisories and today’s announcements do not necessitate any action from 3M, as the company exited these chemistries more than a decade ago and has voluntarily helped remediate the chemicals from the environment.”
3) Statements concerning ongoing collaboration with local regulators from Robin Higgs, acting site manager in Decatur:
- “Decatur has been a home to 3M for more than 50 years. We will continue to work cooperatively the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, EPA, the Alabama Department of Public Health, and other stakeholders to research and remediate these chemicals – and hope others who contribute to their presence in the environment will do the same.”
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