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Charleston County Aviation Authority Files Lawsuit Against 3M, Dupont, Others for Cancer-Causing Firefighting Foam

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Charleston County Aviation Authority (CCAA), the governing body of three South Carolina airports including Charleston International Airport, has filed a lawsuit against 3M Company, E. I. DuPont De Nemours and Company, and others for the contamination of the groundwater on their properties due to the manufacturing and use of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) containing the harmful chemicals perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). Extended exposure to these chemicals has been linked to numerous health and safety complications, including cancer. The lawsuit, which is the first of its kind to be filed by a South Carolina entity, was filed in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina, Charleston Division.

AFFF has historically been used during fire protection, training, and response activities against flammable liquid fires. 3M Company and other defendants have manufactured, marketed, or sold AFFF containing the “forever chemicals” PFOA and PFOS since the 1960s. Once released into the environment, PFOA and PFOS are non-biodegradable and seep into the ground, contaminating the surface water, soil, sediment, and groundwater.

CCAA is the administrator, operator, and/or owner of three South Carolina airports and other relevant structures in the area. The storage and use of AFFF on their properties has caused contamination, and the governing body did not know of the ongoing contamination nor the toxic nature of these chemicals during the time of its use.

“The use of AFFF has led to PFOS and PFOA being detected in the groundwater of our properties,” said Elliott Summey, Executive Director and CEO of Charleston County Aviation Authority. “The companies creating this harmful product must be held accountable for knowingly putting a dangerous product into our water.”

“Contaminated groundwater has a lasting impact on people and the environment,” said Philip C. Federico of Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A., who represents CCAA along with Baron & Budd, P.C., Cossich, Sumich, Parsiola & Taylor LLC, Stavrinakis Law Firm, and Smith Robinson Law Firm. “Toxic chemicals in water jeopardizes the health and safety of those exposed, and these companies must be held accountable for their carelessness and blatant disregard for the wellbeing of their customers and the individuals in the surrounding communities.”

The lawsuit filed by CCAA is seeking to collect damages for 3M Company and others’ defective design of PFOA, PFOS, and AFFF containing these chemicals, their failure to warn the public of the dangers of their products, and the nuisance created by the chemicals contaminating the properties where it was used.

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