Twin Cities council to pay $1M in river pollution lawsuits

The Metropolitan Council in St. Paul has agreed to pay a manufacturing firm about $1 million to settle lawsuits over Mississippi River pollution.

The settlement Monday ends the lawsuits between 3M Co. and the council, a regional planning and policy-making board for the Twin Cities metro area. The council and company blamed each other for chemicals found in the river in 2007, The Pioneer Press reported.

The company manufactured chemicals called perfluorochemicals and legally dumped them in landfills up until the 1970s. Traces of the chemicals were later found in groundwater.

The Metropolitan Council also joined a lawsuit in 2011 filed by the Minnesota attorney general against 3M for damage to the environment from the chemicals, which were found in Minnesota rivers, lakes and groundwater.

The company filed a countersuit in 2012, saying the council's seven sewage plants were also to blame. The company stopped producing the chemicals in 2002, and 3M attorneys argued the pollutants must have come from a different source.

Metropolitan Council spokeswoman Bonnie Kollodge said the settlement saves ratepayers from the expense of prolonged litigation.

"It ensures that funds will be used for the good of the environment," Kollodge said.

The company will use the money to remove chemicals from groundwater and drinking water in and around St. Paul and Minneapolis. Documents show the company has already spent more than $100 million on cleanup since 2012.

In an email, 3M attorney William A. Brewer III said the company was "pleased to have settled all outstanding matters with the Met Council."

The Metropolitan Council now has dropped out of the attorney general's lawsuit. A trial date for that lawsuit against the company has not yet been set.


Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press,