Washington The US conglomerate 3M has reached an agreement in a lawsuit brought by the state of Minnesota over allegations of decades of environmental pollution.

Known for Scotch tape and Post-it notes, the company said Tuesday it would pledge $US850 million ($A1.2 billion) to invest in a state fund for “water quality and sustainability.”

The case began in December 2010 when 3M was accused of having contaminated the state’s environment for at least 50 years with chemicals that seeped into the ground before running into the Mississippi River.

In November, Minnesota said it had found people suffering numerous health problems including cancer and premature births.

On Tuesday as jury selection was beginning, 3M settled the dispute but rejected the allegations of pollution.

“This settlement reflects our commitment to acting with integrity and conducting business in a sustainable way that is in the best interest of all who live and work in Minnesota,” 3M’s senior vice president John Banovetz said in a statement.

Governor Mark Drayton issued a statement expressing his gratitude to Attorney-General Lori Swanson for resolving the matter.

“This settlement is an enormously important advance to protect the health of over 67,000 Minnesotans in our East Metro area, who deserve clean and safe drinking water,” Drayton said.

3M was founded in Minnesota more than 115 years ago and employs 16,000 people in the state. The governor said the company’s “many positive contributions” greatly exceed “these unfortunate circumstances.”


By Benjamin Cooper