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Warminster, Horsham, & Warrington Sue Manufacturers Over PFA-Contaminated Water

Warminster, Horsham, & Warrington Sue Manufacturers Over PFA-Contaminated Water | Newtown News of Interest |

The Warminster Municipal Authority, the Horsham Water and Sewer Authority, and Warrington all initiated legal proceedings against half a dozen firefighting foam manufacturers this week. Anapol Weiss, a Philadelphia-based law firm, is representing all three plaintiffs.


Listed as defendants are the 3M Co. of Minnesota, the Buckeye Fire Protection Co. of North Carolina, National Foam Inc. of West Chester, and Chemguard, Ansul, and Tyco Fire Products, all of Wisconsin. Although the three suits are separate, Larry Cohan, lead Anapol Weiss attorney on the cases, said they take a similar tack. Cohan will be joined on the case by his son and fellow Anapol Weiss attorney, Josh Cohan.


The companies all historically produced aqueous film-forming foam, a specialty material widely used by the military, civilian airports and some other private industries to snuff out petrochemical fires. The foams also contained chemicals called perfluorinated compounds, or PFAS, which have been found to be toxic.


The subject of investigation by this news organization, PFAS chemicals do not break down in the environment and quickly spread through and persist in soil and water. The foams were used at area military bases from the early 1970s into the 2010s, before being discovered in area groundwater over the past eight years. The Horsham, Warrington and Warminster water authorities all previously relied on groundwater to provide drinking water to approximately 70,000 combined customers.


Due to the contamination, the water systems were forced to close approximately 18 water wells in 2014 and 2016. The three authorities then implemented “zero tolerance” plans to remove the chemicals in their water system to nondetectable levels. As the military only agreed to pay to filter wells contaminated above a safety limit recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency, the water authorities were on the hook to pay for the plans, which involved buying large quantities of water from the North Wales Water Authority.


“These local governments have sustained enormous (financial) losses,” Larry Cohan said. “That problem relates directly to these manufacturers, selling a product that they certainly knew long before was potentially hazardous to health.”


Warminster is currently paying about $2.5 million extra a year, while Horsham is paying about $1.2 million, which it passes through to customers as an average surcharge of $73.48. Warrington projects paying about $1.8 million total in 2018 and 2019, said water and sewer director Christian Jones. Cohan said his firm and the water authorities have not yet totaled an exact amount of alleged damages but that it will be “many millions” of dollars.

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Also read: “Newtown Artesian Water Company Discounts Study That Found 7 Carcinogens in Water Supply

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