Johnson Controls To Use $140M For PFAS Cleanup

Company Announces Fund For Chemical Contamination In Marinette, Peshtigo

Johnson Controls Corporate Headquarters
Gretchen Brown/WPR

Johnson Controls International has announced it will use $140 million to address pollutants from firefighting foam in northeastern Wisconsin.

The company said during an earnings call last week that it had reviewed the environmental exposure of its facilities in Marinette, where its Tyco Fire Products unit has tested firefighting foam for decades.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are used in firefighting foam and other products like nonstick cookware.

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The company began investigating the foam’s effect in groundwater in Marinette and the Town of Peshtigo in 2017.

State environmental officials ordered Johnson Controls in July to broaden its assessment of the contamination by testing soil, groundwater and surface water.

The state Department of Natural Resources also alleged the company failed to promptly notify the state of any release of chemicals, which Johnson Controls first discovered in 2013.

The company has said there had been no indication chemicals had migrated offsite.

Johnson Controls CEO George R. Oliver told investors last week that Tyco and Chemguard don’t produce the compounds containing PFAS, and that the foams that contain them are produced to meet specific standards set by the U.S. military.

“A majority of the foam at issue is specified and used by the U.S. government and military and therefore subject to the government contractors defense,” he said. “And Tyco and Chemguard have always acted responsibly on producing these firefighting foams and we feel very confident in our ability to defend these claims.”

There are growing concerns about PFAS levels in drinking water because they’ve been linked to cancer and other health problems.