The Office of the Attorney General has taken action against several companies for distributing products containing PFAS, a water contaminant that has posed severe health effects to people and the environment, in the form of a lawsuit filed with the local court.
In order to protect the people’s right to access clean water, Attorney General Leevin Camacho has filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court against several stateside companies that have contributed to the manufacturing and distribution of PFAS-laced products.
PFAS, which stands for poly or per fluoroalkyl substances, is a group of resilient, artificial chemicals that can cause adverse health effects such as infertility, birth defects, and increase the risk of certain cancers.
According to the lawsuit, eight companies including 3M, Tyco Fire Products and Du Pont, have been associated with the dispensation of PFAS through their sale of their aqueous film-forming foam, which has been used by fire department facilities on Guam to extinguish liquid fires.
Currently, there is an ongoing multi-district litigation effort in South Carolina that includes the pursuit of claims from other jurisdictions. While this lawsuit filed by the Attorney General has been filed locally, he anticipates that it will eventually become a part of the multi-litigation case.
“We could have filed directly in the multi-district litigation, but the territories…there’s no statute to get it back to Guam. We wanted to make sure if this matter proceeds to trial, then we’d have it handled here by a local court. So we would file here, it would be moved to the district court under a federal officer removal statute and would then be transferred to the multi-district litigation in South Carolina,” Camacho said.
The Attorney General is suing these companies on the basis that these entities engaged in false, misleading, and deceptive acts about the risks posed by their products and orders that these organizations pay for the investigation, testing, treatment, and monitoring services of areas affected by PFAS contamination on the island.
However, while no PFAS has been detected in Guam’s drinking water, the Attorney General says that there are several water wells that have been tested positive above the Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory levels — with two wells that have been rendered inoperable.
In light of this issue, he adds that the Guam Waterworks Authority, WERI, and EPA have been proactive in monitoring PFAS levels in our water system.
“All of our local agencies are aware of this and we are paying out of pocket for it. I believe that Miguel Bordallo pointed out that ratepayers are paying to monitor, to test, to clean the water now and this is something that shouldn’t be burdened by the community. It should be burdened by those who created this,” Camacho said.
According to the Attorney General, GWA has joined the lawsuit.