New Mexico sues manufacturers of ‘forever chemicals’ amid health concerns

Jun 1, 2023, 2:34 PM | Updated: 4:36 pm

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s attorney general and its Environment Department filed suit Thursday against the manufacturers of so-called “forever chemicals,” commonly referred to as PFAS, seeking monetary damages to defray the costs of environmental monitoring and cleanups that they say are inevitable.

Attorney General Raúl Torrez said that 21 companies named in the lawsuit have contributed to environmental contamination in New Mexico through their production and distribution of the chemicals, despite knowing for decades that the compounds pose significant risk to human health.

“We have to step forward and try to protect our community … to hold corporations accountable who have for too long placed their bottom line and placed quarterly profits ahead of the interests of our community, over our natural environment and over public health,” Torrez said at a news conference Thursday in Albuquerque.

PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have been linked to cancer and other health problems in humans. They are called “forever chemicals” because they don’t degrade in the environment and remain in the bloodstream.

New Mexico environmental regulators say they are concerned about forever chemicals seeping into aquifers in a state where 80% of residents rely on underground water for household consumption.

“These companies had knowledge that these chemicals cause harm and they still chose profit over people,” state Environment Secretary James Kenney said.

In recent months, states from California have filed similar lawsuits against major chemical manufacturers including 3M and DuPont on accusations of covering up harm caused to the environment and public health by forever chemicals.

In March, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first federal limits on forever chemicals in drinking water, limiting them to the lowest level that tests can detect. Kenney said that New Mexico previously petitioned the EPA to treat PFAS as hazardous.

Corporate and industry representatives could not immediately be reached for a response to the new lawsuit. The industry group American Chemistry Council has voiced support for “strong, science-based regulation of PFAS chemistries” while warning that overly broad restrictions could impact economic growth, employment and the resiliency of industrial supply chains.

3M announced in December that it will phase out the manufacturing of “forever chemicals” and try to get them out of all their products within two years.

The toxic industrial compounds have been used extensively in firefighting foam, resulting in environmental contamination at military installations and adjoining communities. The state of New Mexico and the U.S. Department of Defense are at odds over responsibilities for mitigating PFAS contamination at installations including Cannon Air Force Base and Holloman Air Force Base.

Near Cannon, the Highland Dairy in Clovis euthanized more than 3,000 cows in 2022 after confirmation of PFAS contamination in the herd — and the milk the cows produced.

Torrez said New Mexico officials are aware of corporate maneuvers aimed at shifting liability to shell companies and are determined to recover significant financial damages nonetheless.

National News

Binaifer Nowrojee, the president of the Open Society Foundations, poses for a portrait in her organ...

Associated Press

Soros’ Open Society Foundations say their restructuring is complete and pledge $400M for green jobs

NEW YORK (AP) — Open Society Foundations, the philanthropic organizations that billionaire investor George Soros has built up since the 1970s, revealed its first new major commitment on Tuesday after a years-long internal reorganization, pledging $400 million over eight years to support green economic development. In some of her first public remarks since she was […]

24 minutes ago

FILE - People shop at Taikoo Li Sanlitun shopping center in Beijing, China, on July 2, 2024. On Tue...

Associated Press

IMF’s economic view: Brighter outlook for China and India but tepid global growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund is upgrading its economic outlook this year for China, India and Europe while modestly lowering expectations for the United States and Japan. But it says worldwide progress against accelerating prices has been slowed by stickier-than-expected inflation for services, from airline travel to restaurant meals. Overall, the IMF said […]

24 minutes ago

FILE - A holiday sale sign is displayed at a retail store in Rosemont, Ill., June 25, 2024. On Tues...

Associated Press

Retail sales unchanged in June from May as inflation moderates

NEW YORK (AP) — Shoppers paused their spending June from May as they wrestle with moderating inflation but still high interest rates that have made buying anything on credit more expensive. Retail sales were unchanged in June from May, which was better than economists expected, after being revised at up 0.3% in May, according to […]

42 minutes ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives on the first day of the Rep...

Associated Press

2024 Election Latest: With Trump as its official presidential nominee, RNC enters second day

The Republican National Convention heads into its second day — now with Donald Trump officially as its presidential nominee. Trump energized the crowd Monday night by entering the arena with a bandage on his right ear after being injured during an assassination attempt Saturday. Expect more speakers Tuesday to mention what they described as the […]

2 hours ago

President Joe Biden speaks with reporters at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Monday, July 15, 2024. as...

Associated Press

The Democratic National Committee says it’s investing $15 million in 7 swing state parties

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are trying to offer political counterprograming to the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, announcing $15 million to fund campaign operations in seven key swing states — even as some in the party have urged President Joe Biden to bow out of November’s election. The Democratic National Committee announced Tuesday that it […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Hawaiian residents evacuated as wind-swept wildfire in Kaumakani quickly spreads

KAUMAKANI, Hawaii (AP) — Residents of about 200 homes in a small, rural community on the Hawaiian island of Kauai were evacuated due to a wind-swept wildfire on Monday as firefighters tried to stop it from spreading by dropping water from the air, officials said. The fire had burned approximately 1.56 square miles (4.04 square […]

4 hours ago

New Mexico sues manufacturers of ‘forever chemicals’ amid health concerns