By JIM BUTLER
The City of Pineville has retained counsel in the class action against manufacturers of chemicals used for years by water systems and other governmental activities.
Discussion of the matter was held in closed session during this month’s City Council meeting. The intention to discuss the subject in executive session was included on the published agenda.
State law permits, though doesn’t require, elected bodies to go into executive session to discuss litigation and legal strategy, an action almost always taken. No votes can be taken in such session.
The litigation in this instance is the groundswell against Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).
Once back in open session, the council voted to add to the agenda a resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into a Legal Services Agreement related to the presence or potential presence of PFAS in the city’s water supplies, and to engage the firms of Luneau & Beck LLC and Fagan Scott Law Firm to represent the city in the class action.
While there has been no previous formal indication of concerns regarding the city and PFAS, contaminations at Camp Beauregard and the former Dresser Industries site are close to home as ground water tables go.
Chemical manufacturer 3M Co. announced earlier this year it will pay at least $10.3 billion to settle lawsuits over contamination of many U.S. public drinking water systems with potentially harmful compounds used in firefighting foam and a host of consumer products.
The deal would compensate water providers for pollution with per- and polyfluorinated substances, known collectively as PFAS — a broad class of chemicals used in nonstick, water- and grease-resistant products such as clothing and cookware.
Described as “forever chemicals” because they don’t degrade naturally in the environment, PFAS have been linked to a variety of health problems, including liver and immune-system damage and some cancers.
Dresser operated from the 1960s until 2016 when it was permanently closed. It manufactured couplings and valves using chlorinated solvents, including trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PERC), in the process.
In 2011, Dresser reported a spill at the Pineville facility and drilled monitoring wells to test and monitor the groundwater at the site. The tests found dangerously high levels of TCE in the groundwater. TCE is very mobile in soil and extremely persistent in groundwater.