In an unprecedented legal milestone, chemical companies Chemours, DuPont de Nemours and Corteva have agreed to pay a monumental $1 billion settlement to resolve a class action lawsuit accusing them of polluting drinking water with perfluoroalkylated and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), known as "forever" toxics or compounds.
This settlement, which is still subject to a judge's approval, marks a significant milestone in the PFAS contamination cases and comes at a time when the country's judiciary is focusing on the large companies involved in this environmental and health crisis.
The impact of the record settlement The settlement agreed to by Chemours, DuPont and Corteva is the most substantial to date in PFAS contamination cases. This legal milestone highlights the increasing liability faced by companies in relation to environmental contamination.
The massive settlement is a sign that these companies have quietly accepted their responsibility for the PFAS crisis, thereby avoiding a lengthy and costly trial without admitting guilt.
Following the announcement of the settlement, Chemours shares soared 24% on Wall Street, while DuPont and Corteva experienced increases of 7.31% and 3.82%, respectively. This indicates the significant impact this agreement has on market perception and valuation of these companies.
Environmental liability and consequences
The environmental liability of DuPont and its associated companies is not limited only to PFAS contamination of drinking water.
According to the Napoli Shkolnik law firm, representing the whistleblowers in the class action, these companies face greater liability for "personal injury and cancer" caused to individuals, including firefighters and military personnel, as well as "property damage" to homes and municipal resources, such as airports, fire facilities and wastewater treatment infrastructure.
PFAS substances have been used for decades due to their non-stick and waterproofing properties in a wide range of products. However, chronic exposure to low levels of these substances has been associated with adverse health effects, such as thyroid disease, liver damage and various types of cancer. The record compensation paid by Chemours, DuPont and Corteva is an acknowledgement of the negative impacts these substances have had on people's health and the environment.
Legal repercussions and future lawsuits
The judge in charge of the case in South Carolina, Richard Gergel, has 4,000 other cases pending related to PFAS contamination, which have been centralized in his court.