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Persistent Pollutants

Asahi Kasei, Michigan settle suit over PFAS contamination

The settlement could be the first of many, Michigan’s attorney general says

by Jeff Johnson, special to C&EN
February 3, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 5


Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel.
Credit: Michigan Department of Attorney General
Dana Nessel

Asahi Kasei Plastics North America and the State of Michigan have settled a lawsuit requiring the company to investigate and remediate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination at its former manufacturing site in Brighton.

The resulting consent decree calls for Asahi to investigate PFAS in soil, groundwater, and surface water at the site and to undertake suitable actions to address levels that exceed criteria set by the state. The settlement could be the first of many, Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel said at a press briefing Jan. 30.

Initially, 17 defendants were part of a 2020 lawsuit the state filed against PFAS manufacturers. Asahi’s portion was separated from the larger suit, and six PFAS cases are currently pending in either state or federal court. The Asahi case is the first to be resolved.

“I started the PFAS litigation project in 2020 to bring relief to communities impacted by PFAS,” Nessel said at the briefing. “They made the mess; they clean it up.” She estimated that the cost of the Asahi settlement, remediation, and cleanup will reach into the “millions of dollars.”

Asahi’s investigation and proposed work plans must be approved by Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) under the consent decree. In addition, the agreement provides that work plans of significant public interest can be made available for public comment before their approval.

In a statement to C&EN, Asahi spokesperson Samantha Cronin endorses the agreement and says the company will continue its productive relationship with state and local authorities to fix any problems in the allotted time.

At the site, Asahi made reinforced plastic compounds that, according to the state, resulted in the release of PFAS. Difficult to break down, PFAS have been linked to several health concerns, including immune response suppression, cardiovascular harm, and interference with the development of fetuses and children.



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