From Alabama Public Radio
By Alex Aubuchon
September 24, 2015

The Tennessee Riverkeeper has announced its intention to sue several entities including chemical manufacturer 3M over pollution in the Wheeler Reservoir.

The riverkeeper plans to sue 3M as well as BFI Waste Systems of Alabama, Decatur Utilities and the City of Decatur. They allege those groups are responsible for contaminating the waterway with perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs. PFCs tend to accumulate in the bodies of humans and animals, and exposure has been linked to diseases like cancer, thyroid disease and ulcerative colitis.

3M began producing PFCs like perfluorooctane sulfate in the early 1960s, and perfluorooctanoic acid in 1999. The chemicals are used to make products like Teflon and Scotchgard. The Tennessee Riverkeeper says disposal practices at the 3M site and at nearby landfills have allowed the chemicals to leach into the Tennessee River and into area groundwater.

The riverkeeper is asking that these companies step up their efforts to decontaminate the groundwater and filter the chemicals out before discharging water into the Tennessee River.

3M representatives say the company is already working hard to remove the chemicals from the environment around their Decatur plant. They say they haven’t observed any health effects in their own employees despite close monitoring.

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