Wisconsin sues 18 companies over PFAS contamination

The attorney general says companies were protecting their employees but didn't tell the public about the hazards
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 10:57 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2022 at 2:57 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - The state’s legal battle against PFAS contamination is expanding. Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul are taking legal action against more companies for contamination from so-called “forever chemicals” around the state.

Kaul, a Democrat, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Dane County circuit court against 18 companies, including three from Marinette: Tyco Fire Products LP, Chemdesign Products Inc., and Chemguard Inc.

Evers and Kaul traveled to La Crosse and Green Bay -- two different cities to give the same message.

”Every Wisconsinite should be able to trust the water coming out of the tap,” Gov. Evers said, “but unfortunately, we know that for so many across our state -- including folks here in northeastern Wisconsin -- that isn’t always the case.”

The state is taking legal action in the pursuit of accountability for water contamination in Wisconsin.

There are several claims in this lawsuit. One accuses the companies of failing to alert the public of the harm caused by PFAS in their products despite keeping their employees safe from the chemicals.

”So with this suit, we are seeking the kinds of resources from these companies that are responsible for this contamination that can help further the investigation and that will help with cleanup and ultimately help remedy PFAS in the water,” Kaul said.

The lawsuit seeks punitive damages as well as reimbursement for the costs of investigations, cleanup and remediation. The dollar amount for damages isn’t set, but Attorney General Kaul says the current cost from the issue is over $1 billion and taxpayers are stuck footing the bill.

Cindy Boyle from Peshtigo is directly affected and she wants her nightmare of the past four years to be over. “No matter how many ways I revisit this in conversations or in my mind, it always comes back to one basic truth: Until we have permanent safe drinking water, what choice do we have?” she said at the governor’s news conference.

Evers and Kaul says this lawsuit could take some time to resolve. Their hope in the meantime is that this suit encourages municipalities to test their water for PFAS and for the Legislature to look at funding for clean drinking water initiatives.

“Republicans and elected leaders of this state have long known about the problems facing water quality in communities in every corner of our state, including many of their own, and they have sided with polluters by doing next to nothing, allowing polluters to spoil our state’s natural resources and avoid basic safety standards and responsibility and accountability for their actions,” Gov. Evers said.

The state filed a lawsuit against Tyco Fire Products and Johnson Controls earlier this year. Kaul says that lawsuit focused on spills in the Marinette and Peshtigo areas and failing to address the PFAS contamination.

Action 2 News reached out to Tyco Fire Products and received this statement from a spokesperson:

Copyright 2022 WBAY. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.