AG Marshall, Governor Ivey answer questions about water quality concerns

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. -- Attorney General Steve Marshall and Governor Kay Ivey spoke with WHNT Saturday morning at a campaign event about water quality and health concerns in Morgan and Lawrence counties.

Their response comes after WHNT News 19’s investigation into the issue found ailing residents in Lawrence County are worried state officials are ignoring their plight.

Both AG Marshall and Governor Ivey say they are working to address the issues and the contamination level in drinking water from West Morgan East Lawrence water authority remains below the EPA health advisory. However, the governor did say that she believes companies accused of polluting the Tennessee River should be held accountable. AG Marshall tells us his office is trying to determine whether it has a role in holding 3M accountable for dumping dangerous chemicals into the Tennessee River.

"We'll be able to meet and learn the concerns of the authority and any role that we play," Marshall said. "Again, I'm the attorney general of Alabama. I'm not the environmental watchdog. My job is to make sure that we enforce the laws and do things that are appropriate for the people of this state."

On October 12, the WMEL water authority manager sent a letter asking the AG and governor to join their fight in a lawsuit against 3M for drinking water cleanup. The authority argues that 3M, which has a plant in Decatur, has polluted the Tennessee River with the chemicals PFOA and PFOS that were used in Scotchgard and other products. Researchers have linked the chemicals 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.

AG Marshall has agreed to meet with WMEL water authority officials. However, Marshall notes that Minnesota’s legal efforts took a different approach than may be available under Alabama law.

"There is a specific provision that allows for the recovery of certain damages. And also they've set standards for certain chemicals which they've done in this case," the attorney general explained.