Town Sues 6 Companies After Ground Water Contaminated - NECN


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Town Sues 6 Companies After Ground Water Contaminated

The town says this has been happening for years, but only last year, federal authorities elevated the dangers of the toxins



    The town of Barnstable, Massachusetts, is suing six companies for making a product with toxic chemicals that have seeped into their ground water, contaminating more than half of the water supply. (Published Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016)

    The town of Barnstable is suing six companies for making a product with toxic chemicals that have seeped into their ground water after years of use.

    "The defendants are obviously the source of providing these products," Charlies McLaughlin, Barnstable Assistant Town Attorney.

    The town claims the contaminates came from fire fighting foam used for many years at the local airport and fire and rescue training academy.

    "That foam would then get washed off into a pond, or just off into the ground," said Daniel Santos who runs the Department of Public Works. "It would seep down and get into the ground water which is beneath us."

    Santos reports six of their eleven water supply wells are contaminated.

    "It's all safe (for consumption)," said Santos. "It meets all of the drinking water standards because any of the water we are putting into our system has been treated."

    It was only last year the town learned how dangerous the chemicals in the water were after the federal government lowered their standards on how much perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) were safe.

    That sent the town into a rush to start filtering the water as quickly as possible. They've installed water treatment tanks that take out toxins pumping at 500 gallons per minute. Santos says they're identical to the filtration systems in a fish tank.

    Right now, three of their wells are being treated by tanks and the other three that are contaminated have been shut off.

    The Environmental Protection Agency has link PFOA and PFOS to developmental effects to a fetus during pregnancy, cancer, weakened immune system and liver damage.

    "They should have known in our view that the product was dangerous," said McLaughlin. "They did not warn of it. They did not warn of its proper disposal."

    The largest company named as a defendant in the suit is 3M. It's based in Minnesota. In a statement, the company's legal council William A. Brewer III says, "we believe these claims against 3M in connection with AFFF (aqueous-film-forming-foam) lack merit. 3M sold these products with instructions regarding their safe use and disposal."

    In the lawsuit, the town does not specifically identify how much money they would like from these companies, but McLaughlin said the whole debacle has cost them millions.

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