City of Fairbanks lawyers up to sue chemical company over contaminated water
U.S. Army Alaska Public Affairs) The city of Fairbanks has retained two Lower 48 law firms to advise on how to sue the manufacturers of chemical compounds that have contaminated groundwater in several areas around the city.
Mayor Jim Matherly said city officials hired the two law firms to help them develop a strategy on how the city can build a case that the companies found liable for the contamination should compensate the city for the cost of dealing with it.
“They’ll talk to us, talk to our legal department.” Matherly said City Attorney Paul Ewers recommended hiring San Francisco-based SL Environmental Law Group and New York-based Kennedy & Madonna because they’re experienced in litigating contamination cases.
A city spokesperson said the two firms took the case on a contingency-fee basis, so they’d only get paid if they win the case and recover damages.
“The city was using that foam for about 20 years, between 1985 and around 2005,” he said.
The nearly $4 million the city’s paid so far was used to clean up sites and to cover the costs of connecting 44 properties in areas that rely on wells to the local water utility system.
It’s turned up here more than any other city in the state, at least so far.
And the mayor said the city’s asking the state for more help.
The study says PFAS has shown up in the tap water of some 16 million people in 33 states and Puerto Rico.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has extended the public comment period on a proposed, more stringent cleanup level for groundwater contaminated with PFAS.