Officials say 3M refuses to pay for water pollution it caused

3M says the contamination could have come from other sources.

A dispute between the 3M Company and state officials is heating up.

It's a fight over pollution in groundwater. Back in 2004, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) found perflueorochemicals (PFCs) had contaminated groundwater in the east-metro suburbs. The toxic chemicals were linked to legal dump sites used by 3M from the 1950s through the early 1970s. 

3M stopped making PFCs in 2002. But the company still signed an agreement in 2007 to cover the costs of providing clean water to several hundred homeowners whose groundwater was affected. Over the last decade, the company has paid over $100 million in mitigation, the South Washington County Bulletin says.

But 3M is refusing to foot the bill anymore. According to the Pioneer Press, the company sent a letter to the MPCA about two weeks ago refusing to pay the latest bill, which is for over $4 million towards pollution cleanup costs in Cottage Grove. 

3M had doubts about whether the pollution could have come from fire extinguishers or other sources, and not necessarily the dumpsites, the paper says.

Now the MPCA is firing back. In a letter to 3M's attorney, MPCA's attorney Ann Coen says 3M is violating the 2007 agreement.

"It is disappointing that 3M is now disputing its obligations under the 2007 Consent Order to pay for remediation of perflueorochemicals pollution caused by 3M. The public deserves better," Coen writes.

As far as other sources contributing to the pollution, the attorney says there's no evidence of that.

The letter also states the MPCA has made multiple requests to speak to 3M about its issues with the latest reimbursement request, but 3M hasn't made contact. 

Until the dispute is resolved, the letter states the costs of providing clean drinking water will fall on Minnesota taxpayers.

GoMN has reached out to 3M for comment. 

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