Citizens Reach $17.5 Million Settlement With Tyco Over Firefighting Foam Use
Citizens in Wisconsin have reached a $17.5 million settlement with Tyco Fire Products over contamination of public water supplies by firefighting foam.
The settlement reached with Tyco, ChemDesign and Chemguard will compensate the residents for exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), personal injury, medical monitoring expenses and property damage.
The settlement comes after a lawsuit was filed over firefighting foam contamination in the Marinette and Peshtigo areas. Tyco has committed to funding a new, permanent water line which will give Peshtigo residents clean drinking water. The new line is being discussed by town and city officials.
The settlement must be approved by a judge and, once it is approved, the funds will be distributed by a special administrator.
Tyco spokesperson Katie McGinty said Tyco has recently found a permanent solution regarding clean water in the area and hopes to begin building a groundwater treatment system in May.
The complaint in the lawsuit preceding the settlement noted that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a PFAS chemical, is “readily absorbed” after it is consumed or inhaled and accumulates in the liver, kidney and blood stream. The complaint alleged that increased levels of PFOA in the blood are linked to numerous health problems, including testicular cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, pre-eclampsia, ulcerative colitis, thyroid hormone changes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, immune effects, liver effects and cardiac problems.
The complaint claimed that the public water supplies were contaminated by PFOA found in firefighting foam which was used at Tyco’s Fire Technology Center in Marinette and other sites in the area.
The complaint argued that the defendants knew or should have known that their firefighting foam products could contaminate the public water supplies and pose a public health risk yet continued to use the firefighting foam products and failed to warn the public about the health risks associated with those products.
The complaint claimed the defendants knew of the health and environmental hazards associated with the PFAS in their firefighting foam for over 50 years. The complaint claimed the defendants “formed joint task forces and committees and otherwise colluded” to conceal the toxic nature and environmental properties of PFAS chemicals. The complaint accused the defendants of intentionally representing to the public, EPA, USAF and DOD that their firefighting foam was safe and didn’t pose a health or environmental risk. The complaint alleges the defendants used their considerable resources to fight against PFAS regulation, and decided to use firefighting foam containing unsafe PFAS instead of safer formulations because it was the most profitable way to make the foam.
The complaint sought to recover damages based on multiple causes of action, including negligence, trespass, abnormally dangerous activity and absolute and strict liability, private nuisance, products liability – failure to warn, and punitive damages.