Local/state briefs

Fly tying workshops offered Saturday at Camden State Park

The Friends of Camden State Park are hosting three free, public fly tying workshops at the south picnic shelter in Camden State Park on Saturday. The workshops are scheduled from 1-2 p.m., 2-3 p.m., and 3-4 p.m. Participants will be tying an artificial fly used for trout fishing called the Sawyer Pheasant Tail Nymph. The workshops will be limited to 10 people each. The activity is for ages 10+. Children need to be supervised by an accompanying adult registered for a workshop. All materials for the workshops, and light refreshments, will be provided by The Friends of Camden State Park. Free will donations to support the Friends group are always appreciated. You can register for a workshop at the park office located about 3 miles south of Lynd on Highway 23 or call the office at 507-865-4530. A valid parking permit is required to park in Camden State Park.

3M to pay $850 million to settle suit over chemical disposal

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — 3M Co. has agreed to pay the state of Minnesota $850 million to settle a major case alleging the manufacturer damaged natural resources and contaminated groundwater by disposing of chemicals over decades, Minnesota’s attorney general announced Tuesday.

The state was seeking $5 billion from Maplewood, Minnesota-based 3M in a case that focused on the company’s disposal of chemicals once used to make Scotchgard fabric protector and other products. The lawsuit, filed in 2010, alleged 3M damaged Minnesota’s natural resources, including more than 100 miles of the Mississippi River. The state also said the chemicals contaminated drinking water, harmed wildlife and posed a threat to human health.

The company denies it did anything wrong, insisting it was acting legally at the time. The settlement did not require an admission of liability, Attorney General Lori Swanson said.

“We’re pleased with the settlement. We think the settlement will help solve a problem in Minnesota. It’s been a problem that has been a long time in the making for many decades,” Swanson said. “These chemicals, as I mentioned, were put into the ground. And we are very hopeful the settlement can help fix that.”

The settlement was announced Tuesday after jury selection was halted as the trial was set to begin. Swanson said she believes it is the largest environmental case in state history.

Swanson said 3M will pay the state in one lump sum within the next 15 days. It will go into a fund dedicated to projects that will clean up and safeguard drinking water in the eastern suburbs of St. Paul. Details on how the money will be used are still being worked out, but it could go to help homeowners with contaminated wells, or help municipalities with sustainable drinking water and treatment plans.

Funding would also go toward habitat restoration and recreation such as fishing piers, trails or wetlands.

The lawsuit was centered on 3M’s disposal of perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, and their compounds. The company began producing PFCs in the 1950s and legally disposed of them in landfills for decades. Along with Scotchgard, the chemicals were used in fire retardants, paints, nonstick cookware and other products.

The company stopped making PFCs in 2002 after negotiating with the Environmental Protection Agency, which said the chemicals could pose long-term risks to human health and the environment. But in 2004, trace amounts of the chemicals were found in groundwater at 3M dumping sites east of St. Paul.

The state and 3M reached a deal three years later requiring the company to spend millions to clean up landfills and provide clean drinking water to affected communities.

But Minnesota sued in 2010, alleging 3M researched PFCs and knew the chemicals were getting into the environment and posing a threat to human health.

In a statement Tuesday, 3M senior vice president of research and development John Banovetz said the company is proud of its record of environmental stewardship and does not believe there is a PFC-related health issue.

Since the Minnesota lawsuit was filed in 2010, concerns over PFCs have grown. The Star Tribune reported that in 2016, the EPA drastically reduced the recommended maximum levels of PFC concentrations for drinking water. As a result, about 15 million people learned their drinking water wasn’t considered safe for long-term consumption.

Jury acquits Minneapolis officer who shot at car

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A jury on Tuesday acquitted a Minneapolis police officer who shot at a car full of club-goers nearly two years ago.

The Hennepin County jury deliberated over two days before finding officer Efrem Hamilton not guilty of second-degree assault and intentional discharge of a firearm. No one was hurt, but prosecutors still charged Hamilton.

County Attorney Mike Freeman said he was disappointed but accepts the verdict.

“We continue to believe that Officer Hamilton should not have fired that shot at a car full of people within seconds of getting out of his car. We do not believe this was good police work and hope not to see such carelessness in the future,” Freeman said in a statement.

Hamilton was off duty when he went to assist with a shots fired call near Target Field in November 2016. His squad car collided with a BMW driving in reverse to get away from the chaotic scene.

The Star Tribune reported Hamilton testified he heard the car’s engine revving and feared for his life. Prosecutors argued that the sound could have come from any number of cars in the area.