July 7, 2005
The Marietta Times (Ohio)
Our Opinion: C8 issue is no place for
meddling with government
First there’s word that an advisory panel to the Environmental
Protection Agency has urged the agency to take the threat C8 may
pose to humans more seriously, saying the chemical is likely to
cause cancer in people. Now there’s word that the West Virginia
arm of that agency allowed DuPont officials to edit — even
nix — press releases and warnings about the chemical to
Residents of Washington County and elsewhere who have C8 in their
water are understandably disturbed by that information. So are
A West Virginia newspaper reported this week that a couple of
years ago DuPont officials were regularly editing the regulating
agency’s press releases or public announcements concerning
C8 and the dangers it may pose. The chemical is used in the manufacturing
of Teflon and is emitted into the air, land and water by the DuPont
plant in Washington, W.Va., just across the Ohio River from Little
Hocking where thousands of Washington County residents now have
C8 in their drinking water.
The federal EPA is in the process of determining what level of
C8, if any, is safe for humans. High concentrations of the chemical
have caused cancer in lab animals, but so far there’s been
no proof that C8 causes cancer in humans. DuPont claims the chemical
is no threat to people.
Still, the company has settled a massive class-action lawsuit
and will be paying for medical tests of people living in the area.
Local water systems are also in line to get filtering devices.
We know it’s an issue on readers’ minds and reports
that the Department of Environmental Protection in West Virginia
was allowing DuPont to dictate what information went out to the
public on C8 makes us that much more concerned.
The DEP’s practice was revealed through depositions given
in connection to the lawsuit. In a sworn statement, a former spokesman
for the DEP outlined how DuPont officials were given the authority
to approve DEP press releases.
We think that’s an outrage and once again raises into question
whether the DEP truly is objective or credible in its handling
of the C8 issue.
The new head of the DEP says no such policy is in place under
her watch. But that assurance is too little too late. We have
to wonder what information DuPont kept from being released to
the public over the years. And what harm may have been done in
While it’s true the effect of the chemical on humans is
still being researched, the fact the DEP has succumbed to DuPont
pressure in the past, along with the recommendation of an EPA
advisory group that C8 could be more of a threat to human health
than initially believed, means the EPA must put C8 on the fast
track. People need to know what the real danger is, and the longer
the agency takes to determine that, the more danger could be done.
For its part, DuPont officials need to step back and put the
public health first by letting the EPA at the state and federal
level do it’s job unfettered.