Five Blades residents have filed what they hope will become a class action lawsuit on behalf of over 1,300 residents against several companies they blame for contamination of the town’s drinking water with toxic chemicals.
State officials told Blades residents to stop drinking municipal water last February after elevated levels of Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) — specifically PFOS and PFOA— were found in the town’s three wells. They were then found in several private wells. A carbon filtration system was installed for the municipal supply, which was determined safe to drink within weeks.
PFCs accumulate in the environment and the human body. According to the CDC, some studies indicate certain PFCs may affect the immune system and increase the risk of cancer.
The suit filed late last month blames 3M, DuPont and Chemours for allegedly manufacturing, marketing and selling products containing PFCs despite knowledge of their risks.
It claims a local defendant, Procino Plating, used the chemicals in hard chrome plating and to manufacture nonstick cookware in the town of Blades, then “carelessly discharged” them, contaminating the water supply.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for injuries they say resulted from exposure to the contaminated water.
The complaint claims three plaintiffs were diagnosed with conditions including thyroid, kidney and liver disease as a result of the exposure. It claims all plaintiffs have bioaccumulation of the chemicals in their blood and are at an increased risk for several health conditions.
Four of the five plaintiffs’ homes are on municipal water and one has a private well, according to the filing.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Chemours said the court filing contains "significant factual misstatements" — and that "no Chemours plant site had ever used PFOS in its manufacturing processes, and all Chemours plant sites now owned by Chemours had ceased using PFOA at least two years before the company was established."
A spokesperson for 3M says the company “cares deeply about the safety and health of Delaware’s communities” and “acted responsibly in connection with products containing PFAS and will vigorously defend its environmental stewardship.”
A spokesman for DuPont declined to comment on the pending litigation beyond saying the company “will vigorously defend [its] record of safety, health and environmental stewardship.”
Representatives from Procino Enterprises did not respond to a request for comment. An official with the Town of Blades and Secretary Shawn Garvin of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control both declined to comment.
The state of New Jersey recently sued 3M, DuPont and Chemours for manufacturing and selling firefighting foam containing the toxic chemicals despite knowing their risks. That suit alleges the chemicals have contaminated groundwater and surface water in New Jersey.
This story has been updated to include comment from Chemours.