By Dennis Pillion

A federal lawsuit over chemical contamination in the Tennessee River in and around Decatur, Ala., is set to go to trial, but not until 2019.

Judge Abdul K. Kallon scheduled a pretrial conference for Jan. 23, 2019 in Birmingham, with a non-jury trial to begin March 4, 2019 at the federal courthouse in Huntsville.

The lawsuit, filed last year by environmental group Tennessee Riverkeeper, alleges synthetic chemicals manufactured by 3M at its plant in Decatur have been entering the Tennessee River for decades, and that these chemicals pose a threat to human health and the environment.

The suit does not seek monetary damages from 3M or the other defendants in the case, but asks the courts to compel them to clean up landfills and other disposal facilities that the Riverkeeper group says is still releasing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctyl sulfonate (PFOS) into the Tennessee River, which is a source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of Alabamians.

“We don’t mind 3M making profitable products – but, we cannot tolerate the defendants putting profit ahead of the health of people, the environment and the River,” said David Whiteside, Tennessee Riverkeeper’s Founder and Executive Director.

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