Tennessee Riverkeeper to Sue 3M & Decatur, Huntsville Cybersecurity Summit

Sep 24, 2015

The Tennessee Riverkeeper has announced its intention to sue several entities including chemical manufacturer 3M over pollution in the Wheeler Reservoir.

The riverkeeper plans to sue 3M as well as BFI Waste Systems of Alabama, Decatur Utilities and the City of Decatur. They allege those groups are responsible for contaminating the waterway with perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs. PFCs tend to accumulate in the bodies of humans and animals, and exposure has been linked to diseases like cancer, thyroid disease and ulcerative colitis.

3M began producing PFCs like perfluorooctane sulfate in the early 1960s, and perfluorooctanoic acid in 1999. The chemicals are used to make products like Teflon and Scotchgard. The Tennessee Riverkeeper says disposal practices at the 3M site and at nearby landfills have allowed the chemicals to leach into the Tennessee River and into area groundwater.

The riverkeeper is asking that these companies step up their efforts to decontaminate the groundwater and filter the chemicals out before discharging water into the Tennessee River.

3M representatives say the company is already working hard to remove the chemicals from the environment around their Decatur plant. They say they haven’t observed any health effects in their own employees despite close monitoring.

The subject of cybersecurity will take center stage in Huntsville starting today.

The University of Alabama at Huntsville is hosting a cybersecurity summit to raise awareness on different types of cyber threats.

Joyce Vance is the United States district attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. She says it is important for people to report cyber threats or attacks they come in contact with.

“You know, the one general concept that transcends the summit itself is how important it is for anyone who believes they have had a cyber-intrusion to reach out to myself and the U.S. attorney’s office, the FBI, to the secret service or to ICE.”

The keynote speakers at the event include John Carlin. He’s United States Department of Justice assistant attorney general for national security.

Alabama has one week before the new state budget goes into effect. APR’s Pat Duggins reports big cuts might be coming despite tax increases.

Alabama lawmakers cobbled together a spending and taxation package of about $166 million. That’s short of the $200 million budgetary shortfall Governor Robert Bentley was predicting during the budget debate. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says the situation might be even worse, as state agencies are facing close to $88 million in cuts in the new fiscal year starting October 1.

One place where Alabama taxpayers could feel the pinch is the next time they need to get a new driver’s license. Back in August, the state’s law enforcement agency predicted having to close 33 license bureaus on October 1. The APR newsroom called for an update, and we were told the number of offices to be closed is still under consideration.