On May 17, 2023, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced that they had reached a settlement with Douglas Corp., a chrome plater, regarding its historical use and disposal of plating solutions containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) as part of its plating operations.

At issue were Douglas Corp.’s alleged discharges of PFAS and Chromium to St. Louis Park’s stormwater system. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the contaminated discharges eventually flowed to and contaminated Bass Lake, Bde Maka Ska, and Lake Harriet. Douglas Corp. has maintained, and continues to maintain, that it is not liable for the alleged discharges.

The settlement, totaling $1,357,000, stands as the fourth largest in the history of Natural Resource Damages cases in Minnesota. It is also one of the first instances of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources pursuing a user, rather than a manufacturer, of PFAS for Natural Resource damages. The settlement will go to fund projects including erosion controls, vegetation management, fish habitat improvement, enhancing fishing access, and protecting groundwater quality and recharge in the affected area.

The settlement only releases Douglas Corp. for Natural Resource Damages, and expressly carves out, among other things, claims for remedial costs under CERCLA and MERLA and its 2016 Schedule of Compliance. Douglas Corp. continues to conduct investigation and remediation of its alleged PFAS and Chromium contamination pursuant to that 2016 Schedule of Compliance with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.