3M in Decatur admitted to the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, that the company illegally dumped chemicals into the Tennessee River. In a letter sent April 3rd, 3M admitted they violated federal law but did not say how long they had been dumping the chemicals, or where exactly in the river they were dumped.
In the letter, 3M said they have stopped using the new chemicals and they are investigating the source of how it happened.
Faron Davis and his family live in Decatur. These new chemicals that were dumped in the Tennessee River worry him, "it's very concerning. You don't know what this stuff can do to you, especially long term," said Davis.
Right now, there is no definitive science proving there are long term health risks from these new chemicals, FBSA and FBSEE, but the EPA has prevented companies from dumping them into drinking water since 2009.
We do know the chemicals are an alternative to the ones used by 3M decades ago that have been linked to cancer and other health risks.
3M told the EPA about the new chemicals in the river on the same day they settled a lawsuit with the West Morgan East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority concerning contamination of drinking water by the decade's old chemicals.
David Whiteside with the environmental protection group Tennessee Riverkeeper told WAAY 31 this new chemical will impact the lawsuit the group has against 3M, "the development that they're dumping these short-chain chemicals makes 3M's defense a lot weaker and it's going to increase the cost of their cleanup," said Whiteside.
Davis told WAAY 31 he would like to see 3M, and other companies, think about public safety before putting chemicals into the river, "we've got to know that the water is safe. For drinking, for bathing, for whatever. We can't have anything detrimental to us, especially our little ones that are growing and developing," said Davis.
The West Morgan East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority told WAAY 31 the EPA and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management have not told them about the new chemicals being in the water.
The water authority did not know for sure if the new filtration system they are putting in will take it out, but they are 99 percent sure it will. That system is set to get up and running in December of 2020.