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3M and Georgia-Pacific face federal class action suit over PFAS pollution in Parchment

Volunteers pass out cases of bottled water at Parchment High School.
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
Volunteers pass out cases of bottled water at Parchment High School.

Residents of a town near Kalamazoo join a federal class action lawsuit against 3M and Georgia-Pacific over PFAS contamination.

The lawsuit alleges that both companies played a role in the high levels of industrial chemicals that were discovered in the city of Parchment’s municipal water in July.

Nick Coulson, an attorney with Liddle & Dubin P.C. which is the firm that filed the lawsuit, says a group of Parchment residents told the firm about the issue.

“Three of our clients who are seeking to represent a class of everybody that was serviced by Parchment’s water system at the time that the contamination was detected,” Coulson said.

The three plaintiffs, David Dykehouse, Kristina Boskovich, and Elizabeth Hamblin are all Parchment city residents who were exposed to the polluted water. It was first publically considered unsafe to drink in July, when a State of Emergency was declared to handle the water situation.

Coulson doesn’t expect either company to respond with statements or by filing motions to dismiss the suit anytime soon.

“The service just went out and so they have a couple months before they have to respond to the complaint,” he said.

Karen Cole, a spokeswoman for Georgia-Pacific, made it clear that the company never owned or operated the former paper mill that the state says is the source of the contamination. But Georgia-Pacific does have corporate ties to the owners, which is why it is named in the suit.

Cole also says the company is cooperating with state officials.

“Georgia-Pacific did enter into an agreement with [The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality] to close the landfill, which we did to the satisfaction of the state,” she said in a written statement.

More from the statement:

It’s important to keep in mind that at the present time, there is no direct link between the city of Parchment’s municipal wells and the former Crown Vantage landfill. Georgia-Pacific is currently working with the state on a hydrogeological study of the area around these wells. The study will help the state better understand groundwater flows in the area and potentially identify possible sources of the contamination in the wells. 3M manufactured products using PFAS chemicals for decades that have been found at high levels in Parchment, and at several sites across the state. Representatives from 3M couldn’t be reached for comment.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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