Urban water PFAS Americas

BASF Corp settles contaminated drinking water PFAS claims

Tuesday, 11 June 2024

BASF Corp in North America has settled claims against its subsidiary Ciba related to contamination of drinking water with per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances.


PFAS from firefighting foam

Ciba manufactured aqueous firefighting foam containing PFAS, before selling its fluorosurfactant business to Chemguard in 2003. BASF Corp bought Ciba in 2008.

The claims were settled in a federal court in South Carolina, following the nationwide Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) Products Liability Litigation. The settlement of €2.95 million will provide funding to public water systems throughout the country to help eliminate PFAS in their water supplies.

Complaints raised against multiple companies

A suit of claims was filed by South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson in 2023. BASF Corp and Chemguard were among the companies named in the complaint, along with DuPont and 3M, both of whom have already settled significant claims.

The original complaint stated: “Despite knowing for decades that PFAS chemicals are toxic, defendants have misled the public and government regulators by consistently and publicly denying that their PFAS products presented any harm to human health or the environment.”

It continued: “By purposefully sending toxic chemicals into South Carolina while misleading the public and commercial and industrial users about their properties and known risks, the defendants have caused widespread contamination and injuries to State natural resources. [PFAS chemicals] contaminate South Carolina’s drinking water, groundwater, surface water, wildlife, soil, and sediment.”

Not the end of PFAS contamination claims

The recent settlement does not include water systems owned and operated by the state or federal government, or by privately owned wells.

It should be noted that neither BASF Corp nor Ciba have admitted liability, in keeping with earlier settlements by 3M (€9.7 billion), DuPont, Chemours and Corteva (€1.1 billion), and Tycho and Chemguard (€692 million).

The US government recently introduced strict guidelines after the administration of President Biden and Kamala Harris finalised the country’s first National Drinking Water Standard designed specifically to protect people from exposure to PFAS, while the EPA pledged to make polluters pay for cleaning up water supplies.

Speaking to media following the settlement, Scott Summy, a co-lead in the multidistrict litigation and an attorney at environmental law firm Baron and Budd, said: “This settlement is another significant advance in our critical mission to ensure safer drinking water for Americans. Combined with earlier settlements, this $312.5 million will provide funds for public water suppliers facing PFAS remediation and now compliance with strict new regulations.”

Share your water technology stories with us
Do you have an innovation, research results or an other interesting topic you would like to share with the international water technology industry? The Aquatech website and social media channels are a great platform to showcase your stories!

Please contact our Sr Brand Marketing Manager Annelie Koomen.

Are you an Aquatech exhibitor?
Make sure you add your latest press releases to your Company Profile in the Exhibitor Portal for free exposure.