DNR Cannot Intervene in the Tyco Class Action Lawsuit

DNR Cannot Intervene in the Tyco Class Action Lawsuit

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is aware of a class action lawsuit against Tyco Fire Products, LP, involving some members of the greater Marinette and Peshtigo community, known as Campbell v. Tyco Fire Products, et. al., Case No. 2:19-CV-00422-RMG, in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina – Charleston Division.

The DNR wishes to make clear that the department is not a party to this private, third-party action and cannot intervene in the lawsuit. Additionally, the DNR does not have a formal, oversight role with respect to this lawsuit, and is not authorized by state law to provide legal advice to individuals.

The DNR can provide the following information regarding the current status of the PFAS investigations and cleanup actions in in Marinette, Peshtigo and surrounding communities:

  • Tyco and Johnson Controls (Tyco/JCI) have not completed a site investigation that has adequately defined the extent of contamination that has migrated from the Fire Technology Center, and that ensures that all private drinking water wells contaminated by operations at the Fire Technology Center have been identified.
  • Tyco/JCI have not fully evaluated options for replacement drinking water, nor communicated with affected residents about those options. The DNR has requested that Tyco/JCI take these steps in letters dated July 9, 2019 and December 18, 2019.
  • While Tyco/JCI have proposed that some households be connected to newly extended municipal water lines, there are steps that Tyco/JCI and others must complete for this to happen, which the DNR is not aware that these necessary steps have occurred. Specifically, there would need to be an agreement between Tyco/JCI and a municipality to provide replacement water. Also, the Town of Peshtigo would have to request water from a municipality and apply to the Public Service Commission for approval. These are necessary steps.
  • The construction of new, deeper private water supply wells as a way of eliminating exposure to PFAS-contaminated drinking water may be possible, however it does raise concerns. First, wells drilled into the deeper aquifer in the Marinette/Peshtigo area could draw drinking water containing several naturally occurring aesthetic contaminants as well as some with potential health risks including iron, sulfates, manganese, and radium. These wells may require treatment which would include ongoing maintenance to deliver water acceptable to the well owner. Second, there is the possibility of contaminating the deeper aquifer with PFAS compounds during the well drilling process, or over time as the well operates by “dragging down” contaminated groundwater from the contaminated aquifer.

The DNR continues to work with Tyco/JCI to address these issues, but they have not been resolved to the DNR’s satisfaction to date.