Minnesota and 3M at odds over clean water agreement

Markets Associated Press

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency officials say manufacturing company 3M Co. has violated a decade-old legal agreement that outlines how the business pays for clean drinking water in Minneapolis.

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About 200 residents in the city's southeastern suburbs were directed to drink bottled water last year because their well water was contaminated by toxic chemicals once used at 3M's nearby facilities, the Star Tribune reported .

According to 2007 agreement between the state and the company, the company must provide clean drinking water to Cottage Grove, Oakdale, Woodbury and St. Paul Park if water exceeds any safe level established by the state Department of Health.

The company's attorney, William Brewer, said the company wants more information regarding the source of the toxic chemicals. 3M officials said the company may not be the sole source of the contamination.

The agency said other possible sources of contamination have been investigated and dismissed.

The company also said there is no proven health risk related to the PFC-contaminated drinking water. Brewer said state health officials have said that the new health limits are just precautionary.

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The company has been paying for similar water costs in the area for years. But the state health department has recently put in place more stringent guidelines to protect pregnant women and children. That has led to an increase in the number of homes needing bottled water or reverse osmosis treatment, which has driven up costs for the company.

State officials said taxpayers will pay for clean drinking water if a resolution isn't reached and that the state would take legal action to be reimbursed by the company.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com