MANSFIELD — Additional testing will be done on the soil at Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport as part of a federal class-action lawsuit against companies that allegedly contaminated the soil and water.

Mansfield City Council, during a 20-minute executive session, heard that news Tuesday during an update from attorneys representing the city and other communities in a lawsuit against more than two dozen companies, including Dupont.

The city filed a lawsuit in Richland County Common Pleas Court in January, but the case has been joined with other plaintiffs in federal court, according to city Law Director John Spon.

The complaint alleges products manufactured by the companies contained  PFAS, including perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (“PFOS”).

‘Forever chemicals’ found at Mansfield airport

These “forever chemicals” were discovered in the groundwater, surface water and soil at the former Ohio Air National Guard’s 179th Airlift Wing, based at the Mansfield airport.

“(The attorneys) gave us an update on the events that are occurring and certain events that would determine what classes each city will be in based upon a certain degree of chemical testing, which is highly technical,” Spon said after council’s meeting ended.

“We are in the process of working with them to make arrangements to have chemical testing out at our airport to determine what, if any, amounts of unlawful chemicals are in our airport grounds,” the law director said.

“What we know is that we have a certain amount of residue out there now, but there’ll be more extensive testing within a few weeks to determine how substantial those amounts are,” Spon said.

“Preliminary testing found some residue of the unlawful chemicals, not necessarily at this time, a substantial amount, but a certain amount of residue,” Spon said.

“From what they say, my interpretation was, whether or not there’s a substantial amount or a smaller amount, (it) doesn’t necessarily dictate how much money a city would get (in damages),” the law director said.

City filed local lawsuit eight months ago

When the city filed suit locally eight months ago, it alleged 30 defendant companies “designed, manufactured, marketed, distributed and/or sold” products containing these chemicals dating back to the 1960s through today.

The complaint alleges these chemicals are found in products such as Teflon, Scotchguard, waterproofing compounds, stainproofing compounds, paper and cloth coatings, waxes and aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF).

“AFFF is a firefighting agent used to control and extinguish Class B fuel fires and is used at sites such as military bases, airports, petroleum refineries and fire-training centers,” according to the locally filed complaint.

“As a result of the use of (defendants’ products) for their intended purpose, PFAS have been detected in plaintiff’s property,” the complaint alleged.

After Mansfield City Council approved the plan to file a lawsuit, then-Assistant Law Director Christopher Brown said city water consumers can be confident their drinking water is safe.

All water sent through the city’s water system is tested and treated at Mansfield’s treatment plant, Brown said at the time.

“The city tests its water and the City of Mansfield water consumers get those annual reports with their water bills. Consumers of city water can be confident their drinking water is safe,” Brown said.

Still, the companies must be held “accountable for their negligence” for manufacturing products they knew contained toxic chemicals “that could easily spread through the environment and contaminate natural resources,” Brown said.

Companies using PFAS now national targets

PFAS and related chemicals have become a target for cities around the country.

According to a story published in 2022 by, companies such as 3M Co., Chemguard Inc., Kidde-Fenwal Inc., National Foam Inc., and Dynax Corp. “are now being sued at roughly the same rate as DuPont, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis of more than 6,400 PFAS-related lawsuits filed in federal courts between July 2005 and March 2022.”

The lawsuit is being handled on a contingency basis, according to Brown, which means the outside law firms don’t get paid unless the city wins its lawsuit or achieves a settlement.

The 179th had a flying mission for seven decades, a task that ended in 2022. The unit has recently transitioned into the Air National Guard’s first Cyberspace Wing.

The lawsuit effort began on Jan. 3 with a City Council executive session with attorneys from the Louisiana law firm of Cossich, Sumich, Parsiola & Taylor on Zoom and two private attorneys from southern Ohio, who attended the session in person.

In other activity:

Also on Tuesday, in a legislative session that lasted just 42 minutes, City Council:

approved the acceptance of three annual grants totaling $226,366  from the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services through the Richland County Mental Health & Recovery Services Board to support Mansfield Municipal Court’s four specialty dockets –Domestic Violence Court, Drug Court, Mental Health Court and Veterans Court.

— delayed until Oct. 3 a vote on a resolution in support of the city’s Office of Community Development’s Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Report for program year 2022 — which covered July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023. No reason was given for the delay, which was requested by 4th Ward Councilman Alomar Davenport.

— approved annual legislation to accept amounts and rates as determined by the budget commission and authorize/certify the necessary tax levies to the Richland County auditor.

— approved acceptance of the Richland Public Health donation of 10 picnic tables, two ADA picnic tables, five outdoor trash cans and one outdoor water bottle filling station with a dog bowl. The equipment will be installed at various city parks, including Liberty, Central and Fox Glen.

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when...