DECATUR, Ala. - Chemicals at the heart of $35 million settlement between 3M and the West Morgan East Lawrence Water Authority are now at the center of new landfill investigations in Morgan County.
The chemicals in question are known as PFAS chemicals. They are used to make products like Scotchgard and Teflon.
The call for an investigation by local government officials to look for those chemicals in the landfills comes after a series of reports by WHNT News 19.
Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling says the safety of his residents is a top priority.
"We really learned about this from you, OK. And we appreciate what you shared with the public and with us," stated Bowling.
That sentiment appears to be behind government officials to request for the 3M plant in Decatur to look into decades-old landfills where the company used to dump waste.
"3M has agreed to come in an investigate and evaluate to determine if there's any chemicals in those areas that might be in the groundwater," stated Bowling.
The company announced it will assess closed waste disposal sites of Brookhaven, Deer Springs, and Old Moulton Road/Mud Tavern.
3M said it's been investigating various dump sites, but it's not clear what sparked the chemical manufacturing giant to do so.
It could be related to two different previously undisclosed dumpsites in Lawrence County. 3M bought those up for more than a half-million dollars in 2018. The company told the Alabama Department of Environmental Management it would investigate the sites as well.
Bowling tells WHNT News 19 he is confident 3M will correctly handle the investigations.
In April, 3M admitted to the Environmental Protection Agency that the Decatur plant illegally released toxic chemicals into the Tennessee River. 3M reported those illegal PFAS chemicals releases to the state of Alabama for more than a decade. The public wasn't made aware of those releases until WHNT News 19 discovered it in June.
Decatur Utilities says the drinking water is safe and meets federal and state standards.
3M released this statement on the landfill investigations
“At 3M, we know we have a responsibility to this community, and our leadership is serious about continuing to address any remaining PFAS concerns here,” said Robin Higgs, 3M’s former Decatur site manager, and current Film and Materials Resource Division director. “While we are confident that we followed all existing laws and regulations when we delivered waste materials to these landfills decades ago, we are committed to working with the city, county and government regulators to take appropriate steps to investigate these landfills and make sure they are maintained in a safe condition. If there are any PFAS-related issues with the sites, we will find and fix them.”