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Firefighting Foam $17.5M Settlement a “Huge Milestone”

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Over 1,000 Peshtigo homeowners have reached a $17.5M AFFF settlement agreement with firefighting foam manufacturer Johnson Controls and its subsidiary Tyco Fire Products in a PFAS contamination class action lawsuit.

Peshtigo, WIPeshtigo residents have reached a $17.5 M settlement in a firefighting foam lawsuit filed against Tyco Fire Products and two other companies over per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. Plaintiffs claimed their drinking water from private wells was contaminated with “forever chemicals” from the use of firefighting foam at Tyco’s Fire Technology Center in Marinette and nearby sites.

The proposed settlement, which will compensate anyone who lived or owned property in the covered part of the town of Peshtigo for at least a year since 1965 (about 1,100 people) has been referred to by plaintiffs’ attorney as a “huge milestone” for people harmed or “impacted” by aqueous film-forming foam, known as AFFF.

Tyco Failure to Comply and Notify


The PFAS class action lawsuit was filed in late 2018 by two Peshtigo residents.

Lead plaintiffs John and Richard Campbell claimed their drinking water supply was exposed to PFAS, including PFOS and/or PFOA. The Wisconsin State Journal reported that Tyco knew since 2013 the soil and well contamination on its Marinette fire training property contained PFAS but waited four years to make public that the chemicals had spread beyond its facility and into dozens of wells that supplied drinking water to Peshtigo residents.

Tyco officials announced that the contamination was contained but in 2019 it refused a directive by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to test 500 private wells for PFAS contamination, reported Wisconsin Public Radio. So the DNR did its own testing and sent to Tyco and Johnson Controls a notice of noncompliance for failure to conduct that work and other requirements.

The Wisconsin DNR conducted “the largest, most complex environmental investigation and cleanup in the state's history” from PFAS contamination at Tyco Fire Products fire training center. But this settlement doesn’t go so far as to include about two dozen wells contaminated by sludge from the Marinette wastewater treatment plant that was spread on farm fields in the surrounding area.

This is the first AFFF or firefighting foam settlement in the U.S. that involves property damage, personal injury and medical monitoring expenses for plaintiffs. Dozens of lawsuits are pending nationwide alleging harm related to the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam. 

AFFF Multidistrict Litigation


Aqueous film-forming foam cases nationwide were transferred in December 2018 to South Carolina federal court as part of multidistrict litigation. Most of the cases allege that the fire suppressant, which contained PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals”, contaminated groundwater at a military base or airport.

AFFF has been linked to a range of health problems, including high blood pressure and thyroid disease, to those exposed through drinking water, according to court documents.

READ ABOUT PFAS HEALTH RISKS LAWSUITS

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