New York State is suing the 3M Company and five other companies to recover the cost for environmental cleanup and natural resource damages caused by the toxic chemicals in firefighting foam they manufacture.
The lawsuit, the first of its kind, says the use of the foam at five military and civilian airports including Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, caused a public nuisance by threatening public health, contaminating the environment, damaging natural resources, and interfering with the public's use and enjoyment of these resources.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Barbara Underwood said on Wednesday the lawsuit seeks more than $38.8 million it has cost the state in addition to punitive damages.
"As state experts continue to investigate contamination caused by firefighting foams, New York is working to end the dangerous practices that threaten our natural resources," Cuomo said. "By taking necessary legal action against these companies, we are sending a clear message that we will do everything in our power to protect New Yorkers."
The suit also claims the companies should have known by the 1970s that these products were not reasonably safe when used as intended and that the manufacturers failed to provide warnings about the potential dangers.
Defendants in the suit include 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products LP, Chemguard, Inc., Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, National Foam, Inc., and Kidde-Fenwal, Inc.
Firefighting foams that do not contain these contaminants are widely in use today.
"I strongly support this lawsuit by New York State against these negligent, disgraceful companies that contaminated Newburgh's and New Windsor's drinking water," said State Assemblyman James Skoufis (D-Woodbury). "It is reprehensible - and corporate greed at its worst - for these companies to knowingly threaten the health of our community, all in the name of cutting corners and profits.
"I hope and trust our judicial system will throw the book at these violators for the enormous harm they've caused Orange County residents."
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