PFOA 2005
July 7, 2005. Group calls for Timmermeyer to quit over C8.
By Ken Ward Jr. The Charleston Gazette (West Virginia).

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July 7, 2005

The Charleston Gazette (West Virginia)

Group calls for Timmermeyer to quit over C8

By Ken Ward Jr.

A Washington-based watchdog group is calling for state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Stephanie Timmermeyer to resign.

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 environment."

In Sunday's 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 C8.

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."

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