3M finalizes $98.4M settlement with Decatur, DU, Morgan County

Nov. 13—3M Co. signed and finalized a $98.4 million settlement agreement with Decatur, Decatur Utilities and Morgan County, according to a statement released today by the city of Decatur.

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"This is a great day for the City of Decatur and all of Morgan County," said Barney Lovelace of Harris Caddell & Shanks, which represented all three governmental entities.

The settlement involves alleged contamination by 3M and other industries in their disposal of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Under the terms of the settlement:

—Decatur, DU and Morgan County will release all PFAS-related claims against 3M, BFI (which owns Morris Farm Landfill in Hillsboro), Daikin, Synagro and Toray except some for changed circumstances, including any claims that arise due to changes in state or federal law. Toray is not released from future claims related to discharges of a type of PFAS referred to as GenX.

—3M will pay Decatur, DU and Morgan County $25 million, less attorney fees and expenses, for projects "that support and promote community development and recreation." The three governmental entities have separately agreed that $7 million of this amount will be paid to Harris Caddell as attorney fees. The county and DU will each receive $5.4 million and the city will receive $7.2 million.

—3M will take title to three closed municipal landfills now owned by the city. This includes the 40-acre landfill where Aquadome Recreation Center and the former Brookhaven Middle School are located, a 39-acre landfill off Old Moulton Road and an 85-acre landfill off Deer Springs Road in Flint. Preliminary studies have found PFAS contamination in all three. The city will retain title to the Aquadome landfill until after a replacement facility for Aquadome Recreation Center is built.

—3M will pay the city $35 million for "development and construction of a new public recreational facility."

—3M will pay up to $22.25 million for future remediation work at the Morgan County Regional Landfill, which will include capping two cells with a synthetic liner to reduce groundwater contamination.

—3M will pay the city and DU $9.27 million for past remediation work at the Morgan County Regional Landfill.

—3M will pay DU $7 million for future sludge disposal costs. Until 2009 DU was able to dispose of the biosolids from its wastewater treatment plant by providing it to Synagro. Synagro gave it to farmers who used it as fertilizer. That practice ended when the sludge was found to have high levels of PFAS. Since then DU has disposed of sludge at the Morgan County Regional Landfill, incurring tipping fees of about $350,000 per year.

"We are eager for the remediation work required by the settlement to get underway so our community can have confidence and take comfort knowing that any existing issues will be addressed and cleaned up and that a system of oversight is in place to mitigate any potential environmental issues in the future," Lovelace said.

eric@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2435. Twitter @DD_Fleischauer.