Connecticut say tissue maker is polluting their town

Connecticut say tissue maker is polluting their town

Tissue maker Kleenex has been accused of polluting a town's air and drinking water with toxic 'forever chemicals'.

Locals in New Milford, Connecticut — about two hours from New York City — say the company's plant has been releasing these substances which have been linked to cancer and infertility.

The lawsuit — which is seeking millions in damages — says the chemicals are being released by the factory's smokestack and also leaching from its 165-acre landfill site into the local water systems.

Locals say the company has put them at risk of numerous health issues and is driving down house prices in their area.

The proposed class-action lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Connecticut Federal Court against Kimberly-Clark, Kleenex's parent company.

The plant is said to use per- and poly-fluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals to make its tissue paper

PFAS are toxic forever chemicals that get their name because they are extremely hard to break down, persisting in the environment for centuries.

Over time, they can build up in waterways and even inside people's bodies — with previous studies also linking the chemicals to weakened immune systems.

PFAS chemicals may be mixed with tissue paper during the manufacturing process to help make pulping the paper more efficient.

They may also end up in the paper if they come off machinery, which is coated in the chemicals in order to stop paper pulp from sticking.

PFAS are also used in a range of other products including cooking equipment, food packaging such as microwaveable popcorn bags and waterproof clothing.

Kimberly-Clark says it does not use PFAS in its tissues, that the claim is 'unfounded' and that it plans to 'vigorously' defend itself in court.

The suit accuses the company of being negligent, arguing it has a duty to take reasonable care not to expose the residents to toxic chemicals.

They say the company violated that duty because it failed to warn them that PFAS was being used and failed to take steps to stop its release.

The proposed lawsuit would include all residents living in the area, with New Milford having a population of about 6,700 people.

It seeks damages for financial losses and punitive damages and would require Kimberly-Clark to install water filters and create a fund to pay to monitor the health of residents.

The court will now need to determine whether the case meets the requirements for class certification — or that it represents people in the area — and both parties will then need to start gathering evidence for PFAS chemicals in the area.

It is not clear how much money the locals are seeking, but in a case against DuPont over PFAS pollution last year the company had to pay more than $1.2billion for damages and to help clear up the local area.