July 7, 2005
The Charleston Gazette (West Virginia)
Group calls for Timmermeyer to quit over
By Ken Ward Jr.
A Washington-based watchdog group is calling for state Department
of Environmental Protection Secretary Stephanie Timmermeyer to
The Environmental Working Group said this week that Timmermeyer
should step down because she formerly represented DuPont Co. on
issues surrounding the toxic chemical C8.
In a statement, the organization also cited a Sunday Gazette-Mail
article that revealed DuPont officials had been allowed to edit
DEP news releases concerning C8.
"Now that we know about this outrageous conduct, it's time
to clean house at the West Virginia DEP and get people in leadership
positions who protect the public instead of being puppets for
DuPont," said Ken Cook, the group's president.
"Ms. Timmermeyer should not just recuse herself -- she should
resign immediately," Cook said. "This agency needs to
free itself from the influence of this company in order to restore
public confidence in what has become a national health issue."
In response, DEP spokeswoman Jessica Greathouse gave no indication
that Timmermeyer would consider resigning.
"From Day One, Secretary Timmermeyer has recused herself
from all discussions and decisions with regards to DuPont and
the C8 issue," Greathouse said. "The DEP continues to
do its job to protect human health and safety and promote a healthy
article, the Gazette-Mail reported on sworn statements and
government records that show DuPont lawyer Ann Bradley edited
DEP news releases dealing with C8.
In one case, Bradley's complaints prompted DEP officials to not
issue a news release that would have warned Wood County residents
that C8 was being spread through air emissions.
Bradley said that she did not regularly edit DEP news releases
and did so several times only to correct factual errors.
Before she joined DEP in December 2001 as air quality chief,
Timmermeyer was a lawyer with Bradley's firm, Spilman Thomas &
Battle. At the firm, Timmermeyer helped DuPont draft a 2001 consent
order with the DEP that resolved potential violations concerning
DEP officials say that Timmermeyer does not get involved in C8
issues for the agency. No formal recusal arrangement has ever
been put in writing, officials said.
"I don't say the word 'C8' around her," Greathouse
said last week. "She at one time represented DuPont. She
felt it was in the best interests of the agency to recuse herself
from any decisions or discussions concerning C8."
In a sworn statement filed with federal regulators, former DEP
spokesman Andy Gallagher said that Timmermeyer once called him
when she was still with the Spilman law firm and "asked me
to change a news release."
"I don't even remember what the details were," Gallagher
said in the statement. "I told her I would not, and we left
it at that."
Greathouse said that Timmermeyer "does not recall having
any conversation with Gallagher about press releases regarding
DuPont, C8 or any subject."
C8, or ammonium perfluorooctanoate, has been used by DuPont since
1951 at its Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg.
Since that time, C8 -- and DuPont's emissions of it -- have essentially
been unregulated by state and federal agencies.
Fueled in large part by internal DuPont documents uncovered by
lawyers for Wood County residents, the EPA began a detailed study
of the chemical. The EPA also sued DuPont for hiding information
about C8's dangers. A federal grand jury is also investigating
potential criminal violations by the company.
An EPA science advisory panel has urged the agency, in a draft
report, to list C8 as a "likely human carcinogen."