On January 12, 2023, Michigan reached a settlement with Asahi Kasei Plastics North America [AKPNA] over PFAS contamination. The contamination emanates from AKPNA operations at their Brighton factory. The settlement ended a five-year legal battle between the state and the company over the operations at its Brighton plant.
AKPNA Brighton Plant Sued by Michigan for Contamination of Local Water Supply
Michigan accused the Brighton factory, which produced PFAS-containing products, of releasing large amounts of the chemicals into the surrounding environment. These discharges contaminated nearby groundwater and surface water. In a 2018 lawsuit, the state of Michigan claimed that the contamination had caused harm to local residents and the environment. Michigan sought compensation for the costs of cleaning up contaminated water and compensating residents for harm caused by PFAS exposure.
AKPNA Agrees to Payments under Consent Decree after Years of Litigation
AKPNA denied the allegations and argued that they were not responsible for the contamination. However, after years of legal battles, the company agreed to a consent decree with the state of Michigan. The consent decree requires payments to Michigan of $175,000 for litigation costs and $2.4 million for attorney’s fees. AKPNA must also pay $63,686.33 for past Response Activity Costs. AKPNA is responsible for millions in future response activity costs to ensure removal of PFAS contamination as well. Should AKPNA fail to fulfill its obligations under the Consent Decree, stipulated penalties will accrue daily.
AKPNA Agrees to New Safety Measures
The Consent Decree requires AKPNA to implement new safety measures at their Brighton factory to prevent future PFAS releases. This includes upgrades to their wastewater treatment systems and the installation of new equipment to monitor and control PFAS emissions.
AKPNA Agrees to Delineate and Remediate PFAS Contamination
The Consent Decree also requires AKPNA to delineate existing contamination. AKPNA must survey water wells in the areas, then conduct ground water sampling and monitoring of the drinking water. AKPNA will provide filters or bottled water for residents where PFOA exceeds Michigan’s groundwater criteria protective of drinking water. AKPNA shall also conduct an evaluation of an alternative long-term drinking water source.
Some Residents Think AKPNA Should Provide More in Compensation
The settlement has been met with mixed reactions from local residents and environmental groups. Some see it as a step in the right direction and a way to hold the company accountable for their actions. Others feel that the settlement does not go far enough in compensating residents for the harm caused by PFAS contamination.
Regardless of the opinions of stakeholders, the settlement marks an important step in addressing PFAS contamination in Michigan. The state has been at the forefront of efforts to tackle PFAS contamination. This settlement puts other companies on notice that they will be held accountable for harm caused by environmental contamination.
In addition to the Michigan lawsuit, states and individuals have filed numerous legal actions over PFAS contamination in recent years. These cases have raised awareness of the issue and the need for companies to take responsibility for the impact of their products on the environment and human health. If you have been impacted by PFAS contamination, call Stag Liuzza at (504) 593-9600 for a free evaluation.