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Brookings 3M plant manager reviews plan for PFAS mitigation

3M manufacturing plant in Brookings, South Dakota
Courtesy photo
3M manufacturing plant in Brookings, South Dakota

Brookings 3M plant manager reported continued levels of PFAS contamination in shallow water and soil at the plant.

These findings were brought to light in a recent city council meeting.

As 3M expands its footprint in South Dakota, reported levels of PFAS-contaminated water and soil at the plant is a concern for Brookings City Council members.

The Environmental Protection Agency states that elevated levels of PFAS have been proven to have harmful effects in humans and animals.

Brookings 3M plant director Jim Burkhardt said the increase in PFAS levels are coming from a leak in their plant’s fire water system.

“Original sampling indicated that there were some flora chemicals in our fire loop, more commonly known as PFAS. Based on the compounds that we detected, we suspected that this was residual from an AFFF system, which is used as a firefighting foam, or what not, that we had in our plant that is no longer in use,” said Burkhardt.

Burkhardt said 3M is working with the state Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources to build new wells for additional sampling.

Brookings Wastewater Plant Operations Supervisor Eric Witt said they haven’t detected PFAS in any city wells. He said he believes the company’s effort to keep PFAS away from the local drinking water by building additional wells will work.

Council members questioned Burkhardt on when 3M planned on constructing the extra wells.

“We expect to put those wells in probably in October, early November - that’s were targeting right now. Some of those are on our property, some are off-property. We will want to work closely with the city regarding those ones that are off-property. Yet this fall, before winter, makes it much easier to get those wells in place,” said Burkhardt.  

Burkhardt said there will be an additional 22 wells built to assist in the monitoring of PFAS contamination levels.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.