MADISON, Wis. — A group representing residents in the Town of Peshtigo have reached a $17.5 million settlement with Tyco, a company that produces firefighting foam in Wisconsin near Marinette, over contamination of a manmade set of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — or PFAS.
The settlement includes $15 million for damages to human health and property values to Peshtigo residents whose wells have been contaminated with PFAS. It also allots $2.5 million for individuals in the area diagnosed with testicular cancer; kidney cancer; ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, and preeclampsia.
PFAS are commonly used in producing firefighting foam and were discharged into the environment for years at Tyco's Fire Technology Center when producing and testing the foam. The company said they are no longer allowing firefighting foam to discharge into the environment.
Tyco's now parent company Johnson Controls has been working with the Department of Natural Resources on identifying contamination and getting people affected clean drinking water.
Lawyers representing Peshtigo residents called the class-action suit a milestone.
"This settlement marks a significant step in victims' efforts to secure just compensation for those impacted by PFAS contamination caused by [Aqueous Film-Forming Foam],” said Paul Napoli, one of the lawyers who represented Peshtigo residents, in a press release. “But there is still more work to do as we continue to seek to hold the manufacturers of these chemicals accountable for the harm they've inflicted on individuals and the environment."
Tyco said it is developing technologies and state-of-the-art practices with environmental scientists to find permanent solutions to preventing PFAS contamination. The company also said in a press release that the settlement does not constitute an admission of any wrongdoing.
“This settlement agreement is part of Tyco’s efforts to address the disruption this issue has caused our neighbors,” said Katie McGinty, a Tyco Spokesperson, in a press release. “It does not affect or change Tyco’s ongoing initiatives to remediate PFAS from the FTC in the Marinette/Peshtigo area to ensure our neighbors have clean and safe water.”
Tyco also said it is continuing with plans to fund a new water line to provide residents of Peshtigo a permanent source of clean water.
In Tyco's press release it said “Those eligible to file a claim are current or former residents and current or former landowners who owned and/or lived at a property with a private drinking water well source for at least one year between Jan. 1, 1965, and Dec. 31, 2020, in the impacted area bounded in the north by University Drive, in the south by Heath Lane, in the west by Roosevelt Road and in the east by the Bay of Green Bay, all in the Town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin.”
Lawyers representing the Town of Peshtigo residents said this case could be influential in how similar cases around the country are decided.
"To be able to offer a settlement like this that provides, not only compensation for property damage caused by PFAS in AFFF, but compensation for human exposure to that PFAS in drinking water and for diseases previously linked by the independent C8 Science Panel to PFAS exposure is a huge milestone for those harmed by AFFF,” said Rob Bilott, who is on the advisory council for the plaintiffs in a press release.