Gov. Ivey releases statement on drinking water concerns

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. - Gov. Kay Ivey's office released a statement Wednesday regarding the water quality and health concerns in Lawrence and Morgan counties.

A spokesman for the governor told us their office still hasn't received a letter sent by the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority on October 12.

In that letter, the WMEL water authority general manager, Don Sims, asked Gov. Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall to join in its lawsuit against 3M, seeking millions of dollars for drinking water cleanup.

“I understand the concerns of the residents in the Morgan/Lawrence County area. My office is aware of the ongoing situation there and will continue to work with ADEM and local officials on those issues," said Gov. Ivey. "We will also be working with the Attorney General’s Office to research the request of the West Morgan/East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority. I support the Attorney General as he makes the proper determination on any possible litigation.”

The letter the water authority sent Friday argues that 3M, which has a plant in Decatur, has polluted the Tennessee River with the chemicals PFOA and PFOS which were used in Scotchgard and other products. The chemicals have been linked by researchers to a number of health effects.

The authority points out that Minnesota sued 3M and won an $850 million settlement, but Alabama hasn’t taken similar action.

The WMEL authority general manager wrote in the letter:

"If elected officials in 3M's home state of Minnesota were willing to stand up against their state's largest company, isn't it time that Alabama's elected officials take action to clean up the state's largest river and to protect the Alabamians who rely on the river for their drinking water supply?"

Ivey's statement comes less than 24 hours after U.S. Sen. Doug Jones told WHNT News 19 that federal and state officials should be doing more to ensure there's safe drinking water for Lawrence County residents.

A spokesman for Attorney General Steve Marshall told WHNT News 19 Tuesday evening the attorney general's office is reviewing the letter.

"The Attorney General has received the letter from WMEL General Manager Don Sims and is reviewing it," spokesman Mike Lewis said in an email. " We are preparing a response to the WMEL and will provide you a copy of that letter after it is transmitted to the water authority this week."