MARINETTE—Tyco Fire Products, a company known for mixing and testing firefighting foam containing “forever chemicals,” settled with hundreds of homeowners Thursday over contamination found in private drinking wells.

Tyco Fire Products, a subsidiary of Johnson Controls, is settling a class-action lawsuit with 271 households for $17.5 million, according to attorney Paul Napoli, of Napoli Shkolnik Law Firm. Also named in the lawsuit are Chemguard Inc. and ChemDesign Inc., according to court documents.

Of the settlement, $15 million will be allocated for class-wide claims, such as property damage, and $2.5 will be allocated for individuals who have been diagnosed with testicular cancer, kidney cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease and preeclampsia, the release said.

Napoli said that residents could receive anywhere from $60,000 to $70,000 per property, depending on the level of contamination, but those determinations will be made by a special appointee of the judge.

The settlement includes people who lived in Peshtigo between Jan. 1, 1965, and Dec. 31, 2020, and had a private well on their property within the area bounded to the north by University Drive, to the south by Heath Lane, to the west by Roosevelt Road and to the east by the bay of Green Bay, according to court documents.

“This settlement marks a significant step in victims’ efforts to secure just compensation for those impacted by PFAS contamination caused by (aqueous film-forming foam),” Napoli said in the release. “But there is still more work to do as we continue to seek to hold the manufacturers of these chemicals accountable for the harm they’ve inflicted on individuals and the environment.”

The settlement was submitted Thursday morning to Judge Richard B. Gergel of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, who is presiding over cases nationwide involving PFAS contamination from firefighting foam.

The class action was originally filed in December 2018 by Joan and Richard Campbell of Peshtigo, whose private well was found to be contaminated by PFAS.

Napoli is representing communities nationwide fighting against pollution from firefighting foam, along with Rob Bilott of Taft Stettinius & Hollister, who was prominently featured in the 2019 film “Dark Waters” about the discovery of PFAS contamination sickening a community in West Virginia, according to a Time report.

Napoli said this settlement, which is the first involving aqueous film-forming foam, is significant because it sets the stage for future cases.

“If we extrapolate the numbers of what people will be getting to the larger United States and other communities affected, these manufacturers have a $300 billion problem,” he said.

Napoli said that future cases involving foam will likely have to follow suit with the settlement, because it’s unlikely that a jury would decide in favor of a company, based on the information he’s seen in cases like Peshtigo’s.

“The facts of these cases and what these manufacturers knew and failed to tell communities are bad facts for these defendants,” he said.

Tyco denied any wrongdoing in the case in a release, but spokesperson Katie McGinty said during a Thursday news conference that the company recognizes the burden that dealing with PFAS has put on the community.

“This is an important part of our efforts to make this situation right,” McGinty said. “And we look forward to continuing to work with our neighbors now to actually clean up and remediate PFAS and restore clean and healthy water and soil.”

The efforts to clean up the chemicals will in part consist of a new water line to permanently provide clean drinking water to impacted residents in Peshtigo, McGinty said, as well as soil remediation and water filtration to remove PFAS.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of man-made chemicals used for their water-and stain-resistant qualities in products including clothing and carpet, nonstick cookware, packaging and firefighting foam.

The chemicals are persistent, remaining both in the environment and human body over time. Accumulation of the chemicals in the body has been linked to cancer, studies have shown, or other adverse health effects. The chemicals have also shown up in fish and deer, for which the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has issued advisories.

PFAS have been found in water across the state, including 52 sites of fires where PFAS-containing foam was used to put out the flames, landfills and spill sites.

The state’s worst contamination is in Marinette and Peshtigo, originating in the area around the Tyco Fire Products testing facility, which was used to test firefighting foam for years before the practice was ended in 2017.

The contamination in Marinette and Peshtigo requires remediation and that drinking water be delivered to several homeowners who can no longer safely consume water from their wells. In 2019, Johnson Controls, Tyco’s parent company, said it was setting aside $140 million for cleanup. Part of that money is what will be used to help remediate water and soil in Peshtigo, McGinty said.

Tyco/Johnson Controls has also been referred by the DNR to the state Department of Justice, alleging the company waited four years to report the release of hazardous chemicals at its plant in Marinette. That release resulted in some residents unknowingly drinking water that was contaminated.

More recently, the company has pushed back against the DNR after the agency called for testing more private wells in the Peshtigo area. The company said the DNR had not worked to identify other parties that could be responsible for the contamination. The DNR ended up paying for the testing late last year, and PFAS were found in wells, some at elevated levels.

McGinty said the company is not responsible for the PFAS in those wells, saying that their makeup is more like the chemicals used in consumer products like Scotchgard or Teflon.