July 8, 2005
The Marietta Times (Ohio)
DuPont’s editing of state’s
reports on C8 worries Little Hocking customers
By Brad Bauer
Court records uncovered last week show
DuPont regularly reviewed and edited West Virginia Department
of Environmental Protection media releases concerning C8, which
has area residents concerned about what else the company might
be trying to keep from the pubic.
C8, also known as ammonium perfluorooctanoate, has been used
by DuPont since 1951 at its Washington Works plant near Parkersburg.
The chemical taints several area water districts and it was recently
reported that the chemical is a “likely” carcinogenic
The news comes after DuPont is already facing millions in fines
from the EPA for failing to report information about the chemical
for more than 20 years.
The Little Hocking Water Association is one of the water districts
where C8 can be found. About 12,000 customers
are served by the water association, which has the highest concentrations
of C8 contamination of any public water supply in the United States.
“It makes me wonder what else is there that we don’t
know yet,” said Robert Griffin, general manager of the water
association. “I’ve tried to get more information about
other C8 related materials from the company and it has been very
slow — like molasses — in getting information from
them. We still don’t know what other C8-related chemicals
might be out there yet.”
According to the Charleston Gazette, West Virginia state environmental
regulators planned to warn area residents that C8 was spread through
several pathways, including by air, in March 2002.
But before the public was notified, the DEP squashed the news
release after complaints from a DuPont lawyer, according to the
“It is increasingly likely that the chemical is being spread
in several ways — in groundwater, in the soil and now by
air,” said the draft news release written by then-DEP spokesman
Andy Gallagher, the Gazette reported.
Griffin called the report alarming.
“I read that, and it was hard to believe. I was shocked
and outraged,” Griffin said. “The public has a right
to know what is going on. Sometimes we suspect things like that
happen but to see graphic evidence like that just makes you wonder
what else we don’t know.”
DuPont officials maintain the chemical is not harmful to humans.
The chemical is used in the production of Teflon, which is found
in hundreds of consumer products including fabrics and non-stick
Tim McDaniel, DuPont Washington Works site safety, health and
environmental manager, said the company was asked by DEP officials
to check information.
“In general, as a company, we have a policy of not attempting
to edit any government documents,” McDaniel said. “But,
if we are asked to go along with fact checking we will do so if
According to the Gazette, Dee Ann Staats,
a toxicologist hired as the DEP’s science adviser, insisted
that DuPont review, edit and approve all C8 related statements
issued by the state.
Staats was also accused in 2002 of destroying
notes, correspondence and other C8-related documents so they could
not be used in civil suits.
According to the DEP, DuPont no longer edits releases.
Veto resident Kim Harlow, 32, said she is more concerned than
ever about C8.
“After hearing what has been going on it makes you think
they aren’t telling you the full story,” Harlow said.
Griffin said it wasn’t until late 2002 that he learned
that one of the pathways for C8 was by air.
Since then, Griffin said DuPont has claimed to reduce C8 air
Griffin said he remains deeply concerned by recent findings by
an EPA science advisory board that C8 is a “likely”
carcinogenic to humans.
He said DuPont should be required to not only take immediate
action of an interim nature, but also to give prompt attention
to permanent solutions to C8 being detected in the water district’s
The company has agreed to install filters
to the water association’s lines. Those filters are expected
to remove all traces of the chemical, but are several months from
Griffin said the district was not a member of a class-action
suit that was recently settled and is free to seek a more complete
solution if a permanent preventative measure is not taken.
As part of the class action suit, as many as 80,000 area residents
could participate in health screenings. Four public meetings will
be held next week to tell residents how the screenings will be
The collection of personal health histories and blood samples
will begin this month for residents who receive their drinking
water from six public water districts, or from private wells within
the districts, where concentrations of ammonium perfluorooctanoate,
or C8, have been found..The goal is to complete the collection
process in a year.