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3M underreported chemical output for years, environmental engineer says

Industrial conglomerate 3M Co. inadvertently underreported its discharge of a class of potentially toxic chemicals known as PFC into the Tennessee River by a factor of 1,000 for more than three years, the (Alabama) Decatur Daily reported Nov. 30, citing a letter sent by a 3M official to regulators at the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

In that letter, 3M environmental engineer Jennifer Brown said the company had mistakenly stated its discharge monitoring reports in milligrams per liter instead of micrograms per liter from the last quarter of 2012 though the first half of 2016.

The discrepancy resulted in the department recording significantly lower discharge outputs than actually occurred, and was only discovered after the company conducted an internal review, after which it provided updated data to authorities.

Carl Cole, an attorney for the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority, said the company's underreporting of PFC output would likely make its way into the water authority's federal lawsuit against 3M and other manufacturers.

Minnesota had earlier updated its $5 billion lawsuit against the company which it accused of manufacturing and disposing chemicals that are linked to rising cancer cases in the state.