Class action lawsuit filed against Ahlstrom-Rhinelander, 3M seeks to recoup PFAS-related costs

By Eileen Persike

MMC Staff

RHINELANDER – A class action lawsuit has been filed against Ahlstrom-Rhinelander paper mill and 3M for their alleged roles in “contaminating private well drinking water in Oneida County” with PFAS chemicals in the area around the Town of Stella east of Rhinelander.

The website reports a law firm based in Dallas, Tex., is handling the case, which was filed on behalf of six residents on Wednesday, Aug. 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

The lawsuit alleges the application of waste from the paper mill onto farmland in the county caused the contamination in nearby private wells. These PFAS chemicals were produced and sold by 3M Company.

“It is Ahlstrom’s policy not to comment in detail on open litigation,” Addie Teeters, head of marketing communications and public affairs for Ahlstrom North America, told the Northwoods Star Journal. “While we are still reviewing the complaint, it appears to focus on activities that are alleged to have occurred prior to Ahlstrom’s acquisition of the mill in 2018.”

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), more than half the private wells tested for PFAS in Stella have come back positive for what are called “forever chemicals.”

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are man-made chemicals used to create nonstick, stain resistant and waterproof products. They are called forever chemicals because they don’t break down and spread easily, contaminating groundwater, surface water and soil.

Some of the highest levels of PFAS in the country are found in the Stella area. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) says anything more than 20 parts per trillion (ppt.) is unsafe; some of the wells tested in Stella were as high as 35,000 ppt.

The lawsuit seeks to recoup costs associated with remediation/access to clean water, past and future water testing, loss of use and enjoyment of property and decreases in property value.

Scroll to Top