Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Dominoes: Little Hocking to Minnesota

Incredibly, I’ve just learned that it was the detection of C8 in Little Hocking water supplies that led to the discovery of PFCs near 3M’s Minnesota facility.

The credit for this turn of events could go to attorney Rob Bilott, who stumbed upon C8 in 2000 – or the Tennant family who hired Bilott to find out what was killing their cattle. However, even the resultant class action alone didn’t alert the Minnesota authorities.

In the most amazing, but simple way, it was Robert Griffin, general manager of the Little Hocking Water Association who first alerted the Minnesota Department of Health to the presence of C8 in the water near the 3M Company’s Cottage Grove facility. He called to ask if they had established any sort of health-based values or community exposure guidelines for the presence of the stuff in their drinking water. Befuddled, MDH contacted 3M to ask what the heck Griffin was talking about, which in turn prompted a confession from 3M that they had known about the presence of PFCs in the local water for decades but failed to disclose their internal test results to the public health authorities!

In the end it proves that simply being there to ask the right questions can accomplish so much.

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