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Town of Easton Files Lawsuit Against Chemical Manufacturers Alleging Products Caused PFAS Groundwater Well Contamination

(Easton, Massachusetts / August 23, 2021)Napoli Shkolnik  filed a lawsuit today on behalf of the Town of Easton against chemical companies, including The 3M Company, Chemguard, Dupont and Tyco among others, whose products containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) the Town of Easton alleges caused groundwater contamination of the town’s drinking water supplies. It is one of thousands of lawsuits that have been filed nationwide by municipalities, residents and firefighters, including over one hundred cases filed by government entities.

The complaint 2:21-cv-02709-RMG, filed in the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina alleges that the Easton Fire & Rescue Department used aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) Products containing PFOS and PFOA for firefighting activities, unaware of the serious health effects of the PFOA and PFOS chemicals they contain. The Town of Easton further alleges that PFOA and PFOS caused groundwater contamination to the town’s drinking water supplies. 

“Defendants, The 3M Company, Chemguard, Dupont and Tyco among others, were aware since the 1960s and 1970s that PFOA and PFOS were toxic, do not biodegrade, are persistent in the environment, move easily through soil and groundwater, and pose a significant risk to human health and health and safety; yet Defendants elected to manufacture and sell products utilizing these chemicals without warning their customers, placing profits over public health and safety,” the complaint notes.  

The Town of Easton has been proactively testing for PFAS since 2019 and tests results for its seven wells ranged from 0.0 parts per trillion (ppt) to 51.5 ppt. The Town of Easton published these early test results well in advance of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) establishing specific regulatory PFAS drinking water standards or corrective actions. The current MassDEP maximum contaminant level (MCL) for six PFAS either alone or in combination is 20 ppt in drinking water. 

The Town of Easton responded immediately to its early tests and has published its test results, posted notices online and sent directly via mail to all consumers, conducted public and televised meetings with MassDEP to educate the public of the status of current PFAS mitigation efforts, and implemented alternative water source programs for residents of Easton to receive treated water at no charge. Additionally, Easton hired an engineering firm to assess the contamination and determine the best water treatment plant filtration system to remove the contaminants from the public water supply at the source. Construction plans are being prepared for the treatment plants at the three well sources exceeding the MassDEP MCL, and authorization for $9.2M to fund this construction was approved by voters at annual town meeting in May 2021.

This litigation is about recovering the costs associated with remedial actions to remove the PFAS chemicals, so they won't be passed on to the rate payers. It is about holding those responsible for the contamination accountable for their actions.

"As the impact of PFAS continues to grow in recognition around the Commonwealth, Napoli Shkolnik is committed to providing as much support for impacted water districts, airports and municipalities as possible,” says Boston-based attorney Hank Naughton who joined the firm as a partner and leads the cost recovery effort for those hardest hit entities. Naughton spent 26 years as a member of the Massachusetts House where water quality and environmental issues were consistently at the top of his legislative agenda.

 “Easton is a leader in the Commonwealth on PFAS mitigation, and this litigation is a key pillar of our multi-prong approach to mitigate not just the contamination, but also the financial impact on our rate payers and to hold the manufactures accountable,” says Easton Town Administrator Connor Read. “These companies knew for decades that the products they produced and sold were harmful and rather than warn consumers, chose to privatize billions in profit for themselves while socializing the costs onto the public,” says Dottie Fulginiti, Chair of the Select Board and Easton Water Commission, “Easton is pleased to join this multi-district litigation on behalf of all of our water consumers.” 

Napoli Shkolnik is a leading New York-based law firm focused on high-stakes litigation around the country, including national class action and mass tort litigation; it is one of the nation’s largest law firms focused on environmental litigation and mass tort actions.

For More About Napoli Shkolnik: find us at www.napolilaw.com

For More About Easton’s PFAS Mitigation Efforts and Alternative Water Supply Program:
www.easton.ma.us/departments/dpw/water_division/pfas_information.php

MEDIA CONTACT
Paul Napoli, Of Counsel
Napoli Shkolnik PLLC
PNapoli@NSPRLaw.com
(212) 397-1000