Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio is joined by RT correspondent Brigida Santos to discuss a cover-up by the state of Alabama, which has known for a decade that manufacturing giant 3M had been dumping potentially-toxic FBSA and FBSEE chemicals into the Tennessee River.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             The company 3M has admitted to dumping toxic chemicals into the Tennessee river for a decade in violation of the toxic substances control act. The illegal scheme went on for year after year while the state of Alabama knowingly intentionally turned a blind eye. RTs Brigida Santos joins me now from Los Angeles to talk about this story. Brigida as you know, I’ve handled massive pharmacy, I mean massive environmental cases all over the country.

This one’s no different. It’s government looking the other way, thinking that, taking all types of benefits from the corporation and just letting them get away with it, kind of nod, nod and, and just closing their eyes to it. What chemicals did 3M dump into the river and, and how harmful are they to humans and to the environment?

Brigida Santos:                   Mike records from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management show that 3M began dumping FBSA chemicals into the main waterway in northern Alabama as early as 2007. FBSA is short hand for perfluorobutanesulfonamide. It’s a mouthful. The industrial chemicals are typically found in detergents and stain proof or waterproof products. They’ve been listed on the Toxic Substances Control Act since 2009 which is when the EPA first prohibited 3M from releasing FBSA, because the agency hadn’t yet studied the potential health risks.

Well, it’s now a decade later and very few toxicology studies have yet to be conducted on the chemicals. So we still don’t know exactly how harmful they are to humans or the environment. But what I can tell you is that FBSA is a newer short chain PFAS chemical. These are so called forever chemicals that persist in the soil and water for long periods of time, even after they started getting phased out in the early 2000s because studies then showed that they are incredibly harmful to human health.

While these newer chemicals may not be as likely to accumulate in human or animal tissues, they are still very resistant to breaking down and they might be less effective, which would cause them to be used in greater quantities. They’re also incredibly weakly regulated. There are no current enforceable federal standards for PFAS in drinking water and no enforceable maximum contaminant levels. You know, we’re talking about this happening in one waterway in Alabama, but this is a problem across the country.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. We’re handling, we’re handling the, the C8 issue all over the country. That’s the case that, that I handled up in the Ohio River Valley where DuPont poisoned the drinking water of about 70,000 people all up and down the Ohio River Valley with a chemical, by the way, that was made by 3M. This particular chemical you’re talking about that I want to, I want to point something out. The, the industry tries to say that this is not cumulative, that it does, that it moves through the body and it doesn’t any effects. Well, that’s just not true.

It’s what happens is the repetitive exposure to the chemical day after day, exposure in, in, exposure in all kinds of ways because of the way that this has been, has been dumped into, into Alabama. That repetitive exposure causes cellular damage. Okay. It actually affects the DNA in human beings. So this they’re, they’re the core, the industry argument is, well, it’s just moving through. That is a lie. Look, other toxic chemicals developed by 3M have also been found in food products across the, of the country.

What can you tell me about those chemicals? Understand these are chemicals that the industry understands is ending up, ending up in baby milk, you know in baby formula. It’s in vegetables. It’s in all types of food. Give me your take on that.

Brigida Santos:                   Yeah, I’m glad you brought up DuPont because people forget that 3M is the original manufacturer of the toxic chemicals that I just mentioned known as PFOS and also PFOA and those were most notoriously linked to DuPont and it’s Teflon products. The 3M is the company that started it all and it’s absolutely responsible for these toxins making their way, not only into American waterways but also into our food products. Everything from ground beef to bread to apples, green beans, sweet potatoes, chocolate cake, you name it. It’s in there.

The chemicals are so harmful that even low level exposure has been shown to affect human immunity, reproduction and development and cause thyroid disease, heart disease, kidney problems, and various forms of cancer. What’s worse is that the EPA has known about the danger and presence of PFOS and PFOA in food and water for years. 3M has also had evidence about the dangers associated with it’s chemicals since 1978 but it downplayed, spun or tailored his own research to make these toxins appear safer.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, the EPA, I don’t know if you know this or not, but they actually tried to hide the results of scientific studies on this, on this product for a very long time, and I tried five cases up in the Ohio River Valley. They were talking about basically the same kind of product here. And every one of those cases the juries came back and they found that it was a direct causation to the chemical that caused kidney cancer, testicular cancer, all types of gastrointestinal problems.

And of course there’s, there’s the, the issue is out there. It’s very clear to me that it also causes birth defects. And so the, the point is, is if you believe the FDA, I mean the EPA has been out watching this and doing something about it, they’ve been part of the problem and that’s what’s so bothersome about this. What they’ve tried to do is protect the military in, in a large part because the military has used this product in their, in their anti fire fighting foam that they use.

And it ends up going right into the waterways and it doesn’t go away. It’s something that builds up in the environment year after year. Brigida, thanks for joining me. This story has just started because this stuff that you’re talking about is basically in everybody’s blood right now. And there’s been all kinds of physical, abnormalities related to it. So it’s just gonna get, this story is going to continue. But thank you for joining me.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.