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3M Suspends Some Belgium Production After PFAS Emission Ban

By Colin Kellaher

 

3M Co. on Monday said it has idled some production at a plant in Belgium after the Flemish environmental agency issued a safety measure barring emissions of certain toxic chemicals from the facility.

The St. Paul, Minn., manufacturing conglomerate said it has filed an appeal seeking an urgent suspension of the safety measure, which prohibits emissions of all forms of chemicals classified as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, from the plant in Zwijndrecht near the city of Antwerp.

PFAS are commonly called "forever chemicals" because they take so long to break down. The toxic family of chemicals has made its way into drinking water and food supplies around the world through a range of sources, including industrial operations, food packaging and firefighting foam.

According to published reports, Flemish health authorities last month released a study showing that 59% of adults and adolescents living within about two miles of 3M's Zwijndrecht plant had concentrated levels of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, one type of PFAS, in their blood.

3M said Flemish authorities in September served its Belgium unit with a notice of intent to impose an administrative measure related to the removal and potential remediation of soil piles at the Zwijndrecht site and issued a notice of default alleging violations of environmental laws. The company said it pledged to invest up to 125 million euros ($144.5 million) over three years in actions related to the Zwijndrecht community.

3M warned that an unsuccessful suspension or appeal of the safety measure could extend the period the affected production is idled and could have a material negative impact on operations at the Zwijndrecht plant, which produces semi-finished products for other 3M operations.

 

--Katy Stech Ferek contributed to this report

 

Write to Colin Kellaher at colin.kellaher@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 01, 2021 07:55 ET (11:55 GMT)

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