DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — 3M announced Tuesday morning that it will “exit” manufacturing of PFAS chemicals and work to discontinue use of PFAS in its products by the end of 2025.

PFAS chemicals, commonly known as “forever chemicals,” because they don’t break down in the environment have drawn increasing regulatory scrutiny and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposal to designate two of the PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances.

3M said the PFAS products are used in a number of areas including medical technologies, semiconductors, batteries, phones, automobiles, and airplanes.

“3M’s decision is based on careful consideration and a thorough evaluation of the evolving external landscape, including multiple factors such as accelerating regulatory trends focused on reducing or eliminating the presence of PFAS in the environment and changing stakeholder expectations,” the company said in a news release.

3M said PFAS sales generate about $1.3 billion annually.

“This is a moment that demands the kind of innovation 3M is known for,” said Mike Roman, 3M chairman and chief executive officer. “While PFAS can be safely made and used, we also see an opportunity to lead in a rapidly evolving external regulatory and business landscape to make the greatest impact for those we serve. This action is another example of how we are positioning 3M for continued sustainable growth by optimizing our portfolio, innovating for our customers, and delivering long-term value for our shareholders.”

3M has a manufacturing facility in Decatur that employs more than 950 people, according to 3M. News 19 has asked the company how this decision will affect operations at that plant, but has not received a reply as of this article’s publication.

3M has dealt with a series of lawsuits in North Alabama and other locations related to PFAS contamination and it is under a consent decree from the Alabama Department of Environment Management requiring extensive PFAS cleanup in the Tennessee River and properties near the Decatur plant, primarily in Morgan and Lawrence counties.

3M settled a lawsuit last year with the Tennessee Riverkeeper group over river contamination and with the City of Decatur and Morgan County. The settlement with the local governments totaled $98 million, records show.

News 19 has asked Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling about what the city has been told about the Decatur plant’s future, Bowling provided this response.

“A number of years ago, 3M discontinued manufacturing PFOA and PFOS at their Decatur/Morgan County, Alabama location,” he said in an email. “We are thankful for the 2022 settlement with 3M and their commitment to clean up sites of concern. We are hopeful that 3M will remain a valuable corporate citizen and provider of quality jobs in our community.”

In a follow-up email, Bowling said he had not heard from 3M about its future plans for the plant.

The company was also the focus of a lawsuit brought by the West Morgan East Lawrence (WMEL) water and sewer authority which resulted in a $35 million settlement in 2019 and a new water treatment plant for the authority.

PFAS chemicals were found in the WMEL’s drinking water back in 2016 at levels that exceeded the EPA’s lifetime health advisory. On the heels of the EPA announcement, the WMEL advised residents not to drink the water.

In 2018, 3M agreed to an $850 million settlement for drinking water cleanup in a lawsuit brought by the State of Minnesota.

In today’s announcement, 3M described the financial impact of its decision to stop PFAS manufacturing, “Over the course of the exit from PFAS manufacturing, 3M expects to incur related total pre-tax charges of approximately $1.3 billion to $2.3 billion, including the fourth quarter 2022 amount below. Approximately 70-80% of the total is expected to be non-cash.”

The company expects to take an estimated fourth quarter 2022 pre-tax charge in a range of, “$0.7 billion to $1.0 billion, primarily non-cash and related to asset impairments,” the company said.