City Joins Lawsuit Against Manufacturers of PFAS/PFOA Contaminants

Mayor says move helps hold chemical manufacturers accountable

Erin Hut, Directors of Communications, 509.625.6740

Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 2:42 p.m.

The City of Spokane is taking action as part of its commitment to protect the community’s drinking water by joining a lawsuit against manufacturers responsible for PFAS/PFOA contamination.

On April 12, the City filed a complaint as part of a larger lawsuit over these harmful chemicals. The complaint lists 11 causes of action, including product liability and negligence against 3M, DuPont and others.

PFAS are man-made toxic chemicals that bioaccumulate when released into the environment. They have been used for decades in certain aqueous film forming foam, industrial processes, and thousands of common household and commercial products. Exposure to certain PFAS have been associated with several negative health outcomes in both humans and animals.

PFAS have impacted surface water and groundwater throughout the country resulting in hundreds of similar suits brought forward by water providers, and mostly against the same defendants, in an ongoing Multidistrict Litigation supervised by a federal judge in South Carolina.

In 2023, the City of Spokane began testing for forever chemicals under new rules adopted by Washington state in 2022. There have been low-level detections of these chemicals at two well locations -- the Ray Street Well near Ray and 23rd Ave and Grace Well at the City’s Water Department on North Foothills. Although testing levels were below state limits, a test from one production well exceeded the new federal standards that were finalized last week.

“Protecting the health and safety of Spokane’s residents is our top priority. By taking legal action against these manufacturers, we are holding accountable those responsible for polluting our drinking water,” Mayor Lisa Brown said.

“The people of Spokane deserve nothing less than access to safe and reliable drinking water, and we will continue to work tirelessly on their behalf. This lawsuit is another way the City is working to ensure clean and safe water for Spokane customers now and in the future,” Director of Public Works Marlene Feist said.

Following previous success against Monsanto, Spokane hopes for similar results, potentially securing funds from settlement agreements to reinvest in the City’s health and safety.