PFAS Update: State Seeks Outside Lawyers to Litigate Against PFAS Dischargers

On Friday, January 22, Governor Tony Evers announced that his administration is soliciting bids from law firms to find a legal team to litigate against companies responsible for discharging PFAS compounds in Wisconsin. This is one of many recommendations from the state’s PFAS Action Plan, published late last year by the governor’s PFAS Action Council. Among other things, the report recommended that the state “take appropriate legal actions against companies responsible for PFAS discharges.”

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is monitoring around 50 sites for PFAS contamination, including military installations, industrial areas, and waterways in Superior, Marinette, Madison, and Milwaukee. It is not yet clear which companies or sites the administration plans to involve in its litigation.

A few weeks ago, we reported that the Legislature’s Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) had suspended an emergency rule from the DNR regarding firefighting foam containing PFAS. We also discussed how a group of three companies recently settled a $17.5 million lawsuit with Peshtigo residents concerning PFAS contamination in the area. The PFAS originated at the Fire Technology Center and other nearby sites in the Peshtigo/Marinette area. One of the companies involved has also committed to paying for a new water line for area residents, and the company has plans to work with DNR to remediate the contamination.

Meanwhile, DNR is still in the process of collecting information to develop an economic impact analysis (EIA) for each of the three proposed permanent PFAS rules for drinking water, surface water, and groundwater. The department is expected to release the draft EIAs in early 2021.

Be sure to bookmark Hamilton’s PFAS issue page for the latest information.