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Home » Thornton joins lawsuit claiming ‘forever chemicals’ impacted water supply
THORNTON, Colorado – The city of Thornton joined hundreds of other plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against several chemical manufacturers alleging that “chemicals forever” contaminated portions of its water supply, some of which affected drinking water. The problem can be seen in communities across the country.
The defendant companies manufactured products containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS. A common substance using such chemicals is a fire-fighting foam, which the City of Thornton said has “unlawfully contaminated” parts of the water supply.
“It’s a big lawsuit. It’s called the multi-district process. It is currently pending in Charleston, South Carolina. And there are hundreds of water companies, municipalities, airports and individuals who are filing lawsuits against these chemical manufacturers,” said Thornton Assistant Attorney Adam Stephens. “In the case now filed by the City of Thornton, we are taking action against the manufacturers of the chemicals that make up AFFF, a form of fire-fighting foam.”
The lawsuit alleges the city first discovered the chemicals in the water on July 30, 2018. The PFAS have been found at levels exceeding recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health recommendations.
Stephens said PFAS are known as eternal chemicals because they are heat resistant, stain resistant and water resistant. He said after being used for their intended purpose, the chemicals stay where they were used.
“It’s not just in your water. Unfortunately, we find it found in a wide range of consumer products, from clothing to cookware to carpets and furniture. So consumers really need to educate themselves about these products and how to reduce their risk,” Stephens said. “Science is still trying to understand the effects of these chemicals on the human body in our environment.”
TIED TOGETHER: Thornton is taking proactive steps, warning residents about harmful “Forever Chemicals” in its water
Stephens currently said Thornton residents are safe to drink the water in the town.
“These ‘forever chemicals,’ the contamination that comes from the threat is a long-term threat throughout life,” he said. “People can safely drink their water and use their water. However, we have posted: as a responsible water user, a FAQ that people can visit to read more about PFAS and what they can do to remove it.
According to court documents from the City of Thornton, PFAS can be linked to health problems such as kidney cancer, testicular cancer, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis and pregnancy-related high blood pressure.
Thornton’s most heavily contaminated groundwater source has been shut down until it can be properly treated.
Elena Sarayeva has lived in Thornton for seven years and says she appreciates how transparent the city is on water pollution. Ever since the city alerted her to the issue, she has been researching what exactly Forever Chemicals are and how to keep her family safe.
“For me, the right step now is to research the filters that remove these PFAS chemicals from water and see how the situation can be improved,” Sarayeva said.
The lawsuit seeks to recoup the cost of removing the perennial chemicals from drinking water supplies, the city said.
“We honestly challenge chemical manufacturers to acknowledge and agree that this was a problem that they knew, or should have known, would arise when they developed these chemicals,” Stephens said. “You must take responsibility for helping us and other water providers like us remove these chemicals from people’s water.”
If the city of Thornton is not paid the millions of dollars they believe are needed to fix the problem, they intend to pursue a jury trial.
The first trial scheduled in federal court is scheduled for this June, involving a Florida municipality, according to Stephens.
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) has a website that allows residents to search their specific communities and find results from PFAS sampling related to drinking water systems.
The City of Thornton also provides answers to frequently asked questions about PFAS.
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