In a significant move towards the resolution of nationwide drinking water contamination concerns, The Chemours Company (NYSE: CC), DuPont de Nemours, Inc. (NYSE: DD), and Corteva, Inc. (NYSE: CTVA) have announced a landmark agreement in principle, aiming to resolve all PFAS-related drinking water claims.
The agreement is set to benefit a significant proportion of U.S. residents as it addresses a broad class of public water systems, including those that currently detect any level of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and those mandated to monitor for these substances under the Environmental Protection Agency‘s (EPA) rules or other applicable laws.
This includes systems embroiled in the South Carolina aqueous film-forming foam multi-district litigation (AFFF MDL), amplifying the scale and impact of the proposed settlement.
The cornerstone of this resolution is establishing a “water district settlement fund,” bankrolled to $1.185 billion by the companies. The distribution of contributions will adhere to a previously agreed upon Memorandum of Understanding, with Chemours shouldering 50 percent of the load ($592 million) and DuPont and Corteva jointly covering the remaining balance.
The wheels are already in motion, with the companies committed to depositing the total settlement amounts into the fund within ten business days post preliminary court approval.
The settlement now faces a rigorous journey towards finalization and approval, expected to conclude by the second quarter of 2023, subject to the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina’s sanction. As part of the due process, the Court will delineate a timetable for notice to class members, approval hearings, and an opportunity for class members to opt-out. However, the companies maintain the right to pull the plug if the number of opt-outs climbs beyond certain levels.
Notably, the agreement does exclude specific systems, such as those owned and operated by a state or federal government; small systems that have yet to detect PFAS and are not under a legal obligation to monitor it; and water systems in the lower Cape Fear River Basin of North Carolina, which can only participate upon request.
The companies stand firm in denying the allegations at the core of the underlying litigation, preserving all legal and factual defenses should the claims be litigated to a conclusion. But as this groundbreaking agreement takes shape, the collective focus turns towards a future where the right to clean, safe drinking water is not just a hope but a guaranteed reality for most Americans.