PITTSBORO — The town of Pittsboro filed a lawsuit against the chemical companies responsible for the PFAS contamination of the town’s property and water supply, town officials announced early Thursday evening.
The lawsuit is a civil action and was filed in the Chatham County Superior Court’s General Court of Justice, and follows a vote Monday night to pursue legal action.
PFAS — toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances — are a class of synthetic chemicals that do not occur naturally in the environment. State and local governments around the country have sued numerous chemical companies responsible for widespread PFAS contamination of natural resources, including the state of North Carolina.
“Everyone knows that when you make a mess, you are supposed to clean it up,” the town of Pittsboro said in a statement. “These companies knew and hid the fact that their products, used as intended, posed risks and threatened to harm towns like Pittsboro, so we are going to court to hold them accountable for the enormous costs of cleaning up the PFAS contamination in our water supply. Our taxpayers should not be on the hook for their mess.”
The lawsuit pleads six causes of action against the defendants: product liability for both design defect and failure to warn, public and private nuisance, trespass, and negligence. It seeks a range of relief, including compensatory and punitive damages, and an abatement fund.
The town pointed to the language of the complaint to summarize the case:
For decades, Defendants knew or should have known that PFAS are highly soluble in water; extremely mobile, persistent, and very likely to contaminate the environment, including surface water and groundwater, and including the town’s drinking water supply. Defendants also knew or should have known that PFAS present significant risks to human health and welfare if released to the environment. Nonetheless, they continued manufacturing, distributing, and selling large volumes of PFAS Products to industrial facilities and consumers in the Haw River watershed, knowing that the ordinary use and disposal of those products would result in significant PFAS contamination of the Haw River watershed, the Haw River, the town, the town’s property including its drinking water system, and natural resources in the Town.
Moreover, rather than warning of these risks and harms, Defendants concealed the dangers of PFAS from consumers, the public, and the town. Even as their own research showed that the normal use and disposal of PFAS Products would contaminate the environment and create risks to public health, Defendants publicly denied, downplayed, and distorted the risks posed by PFAS.
Pittsboro has been battling safe water issues for some time.
The lawsuit in its entirety is available online through the town of Pittsboro's website.
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