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North Alabama residents sue over water contaminated with toxic “forever chemicals”

The lawsuit is similar to others filed against companies for allowing PFAS chemicals to enter and contaminate water supplies.

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Five North Alabama residents filed a lawsuit Friday alleging that companies including 3M allowed toxic chemicals to pollute the local water supply, leading to cancer and other diseases.

The lawsuit is similar to numerous other suits previously filed against companies for allowing chemicals known as PFAS to enter and contaminate Alabama water supplies.

“Defendants knew or should have known that PFOA, PFOS and other PFAS chemicals can contaminate water supplies, accumulate in animals and humans, and cause diseases such as cancer,” the complaint states. “Defendants had a duty to exercise reasonable care in producing, using, handling, storing and/or disposing of PFOA, PFOS and/or other PFAS chemicals.”

The suit alleges negligence, wantoness, private nuisance, battery and even wrongful death at the hands of three companies operating in Decatur: 3M, Daikin America and Toray Flourofibers.

The wrongful death charge is on the account of Danville resident Terry Cowart, who the suit says died from pancreatic cancer as a result of exposure to a toxic level of PFAS chemicals in the water.

“I grew up drinking water from West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority,” said Hunter Garnett, attorney for the plaintiffs. “I played little league baseball with Terry Cowart’s son for years. Mr. Cowart was one of the father’s who assisted with our little league practices. I’m honored to be representing folks from my community who were negatively affected by the conduct of these Defendants.”

Plaintiffs Robert Duling, Olitia Hampton and Kenneth Hulsey all say in the suit that they were diagnosed with kidney cancer as a result of the PFAS exposure. Plaintiff Judy Hulsey alleges she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and hyperthyroidism due to PFAS exposure.

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The suit adds one additional charge of fraudulent concealment specifically for 3M, alleging it concealed years of research demonstrating the harmful effects of PFAS chemicals and their contamination of the water supply.

“3M knew that flourinated chemicals produced at its Decatur plant were entering the Tennessee River, which was a water supply for many North Alabama residents,” the plaintiffs said in the complaint. “3M further knew that PFAS chemicals are insidiously toxic, can cause disease and are not biodegradable.”

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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