Polluting for a decade, plant admits to TN River toxic chemical release

Tennessee River / Source: WVLT News
Tennessee River / Source: WVLT News(WVLT)
Published: Jun. 20, 2019 at 4:28 PM EDT
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The 3M Decatur Plant admitted in a letter to the EPA that it violated a federal toxic substance law by releasing illegal chemicals into the Tennessee River.

The letter was sent to the Environmental Protection Agency on April, 3, 2019, in it 3M admits to the non-compliance of a 2009 update to the Toxic Substances Control Act.

A Washington, D.C. based law firm sent the letter on behalf of the company:

“On behalf of 3M Company (”3M"), I am writing to voluntary disclose non-compliance with Section 5(e) of the Toxic Substance Control Act (“TSCA”), at 3M’s Decatur, Alabama Plant."

The statement continues saying, 3M admits to releasing perfluorobutanesulfonamide (FBSA) and possibly fluorinated sulfonamide alcohol (FBSEE) into the Tennessee River.

3M is authorized to manufacture and process FBSA and FBSEE at it’s Decatur Plant per a 2009 consent order from the EPA. However the same consent order prohibits the company from releasing those chemicals into “any waters of the United States.”

WAFF 48 News reached out to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for more answers.

ADEM has documents dating back to at least 2007 showing 3M continuously releasing FBSA chemicals into the main waterway in North Alabama.

You can find those documents here.

3M’s letter to the EPA does not address how long the company had been releasing the chemicals into the Tennessee River. The letter does say the company has now ceased production and release of FBSA and FBSEE. The letter also requests a meeting with the EPA to discuss the violation.

David Whiteside, Founder of the Tennessee Riverkeeper says, the issue is really FBSA right now. He says there is a lot of scientific research about that chemical, but not as much research about FBSEE.

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