WILMINGTON — PFAS litigation and intersection safety were among the topics at Thursday’s Wilmington City Council meeting.
PFAS Litigation Settlement
After an executive session, the council decided to take part in a settlement involving PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances) litigation. City Public Works Director Rick Schaffer told the News Journal this is a settlement involving three companies.
“The portion of the settlement the City will ultimately receive is unknown, but the money will be used to add treatment facilities to the water treatment plant for the removal of PFAS compounds,” said Schaffer, adding there’s still ongoing litigation involving other companies.
PFAS contain a strong carbon-fluorine bond that allows them to accumulate over time in the environment and in the bodies of animals and people, posing health risks. PFAS chemicals might also be thought of as “everywhere chemicals,” since they’ve become so common in the products people use every day.
According to a release on BusinessWire.com provided by Schaffer, the three companies are the Chemours Company, DuPont de Nemours Inc., and Corteva Inc.
“(The companies) have reached an agreement in principle to comprehensively resolve all PFAS-related drinking water claims of a defined class of public water systems that serve the vast majority of the United States population,” the release states.
The companies will collectively establish and contribute a total of $1.185 billion to a settlement fund.
In 2021, the City filed a lawsuit concerning the PFAS. The amended lawsuit indicates the lawsuit is against multiple companies and entities.
“Plaintiff brings this action against Defendants to recover any and all past and future compensatory and/or consequential damages for the investigation, remediation, treatment, removal, disposal, and/or monitoring of the ongoing contamination of its surface water, groundwater, water supply system, and water treatment facilities caused and/or created by Defendants’ products, punitive damages, and any and all other damages available as a result of the actions and/or inactions of Defendants,” according to the lawsuit.
According to a press release from September 2020, “Ohio EPA, as part of an ongoing state-wide examination of every drinking water facility, tested for six types of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds. The sampling of Wilmington’s water occurred in July, and EPA notified the City this Thursday that two of the six types of compounds were detected in Wilmington water. The detected compounds are known as PFOS and PFHxS and are well below Ohio EPA’s Action Level for these chemicals.”
PFAS chemicals have been used for decades in everyday items such as food packaging, nonstick cookware, water-resistant clothing, and personal care products. These compounds have also been widely used in firefighting foams at military installations and fire training facilities.
The compounds are most likely a legacy of the former military operations at the Wilmington Air Park. Schaffer said, “Some PFAS compounds don’t break down and have become pervasive throughout the environment. They are probably in the sediment of Indian Run and Cowan Creek, which are used to fill the City’s reservoirs at Burtonville.”
City Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker advised the council on improvements they would be doing for the intersection around Nelson Avenue and West Locust Street.
“In three years … 17 crashes happened at that intersection. What’s even worse 41.2% resulted in injury,” said Shidaker.
He advised visibility was an issue, and they came up with simple countermeasures to reduce the number of crashes. These include installing stop ahead signs on both sides of Nelson Avenue, blinking stop signs on both sides too, and they would add newer “cross traffic does not stop” signs.
He advised they requested the full funding of $26,583 from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). He said they will receive word if it will be fully funded within three weeks.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574