August 3, 2005
SOURCE: North Carolina C8 Working Group
The North Carolina C8 Working Group Calls
for Investigation of Water Contamination at DuPont Fayetteville
"Likely Human Carcinogen" Found
in Groundwater and Discharges to the Cape Fear River
RALEIGH, NC — A coalition of public interest and environmental
organizations is calling for an immediate state investigation
into how C8, a likely human carcinogen manufactured by the DuPont
Co., contaminated groundwater wells and surface waters in Fayetteville.
The DuPont Co. discovered in January 2003 that the controversial
chemical C8, used to make Teflon and other widely used consumer
products, has been found in groundwater wells at its Fayetteville
Works facility and was present in discharges to the Cape Fear
River. C8 is the same chemical that contaminated public water
supplies in West Virginia and led to a class-action lawsuit involving
more than 50,000 people.
Though the company knew about the contamination in Fayetteville
for several years, North Carolinians did not learn of the C8 found
in ground and surface water until a United Steelworkers (USW)
investigation into the discharges surfaced in May. And despite
the discovery, the DuPont Co. was allowed to conduct its own monitoring
of the discharges – with no oversight from state or federal
As a result, several of North Carolina’s
leading public interest organizations — including Clean
Water for North Carolina, the Waterkeeper Alliance, the North
Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Project, and Cape Fear
River Watch Inc. — formed “The North Carolina C8 Working
Group” to ask state Department of Environmental and Natural
Resources (DENR) officials to act quickly to address public health
and safety concerns.
The delay in taking action is outrageous. C8 is a dangerous chemical
– under no circumstances should it have been discharged
to the river,” said Rick Dove, the Waterkeeper Alliance’s
southeastern representative. “The Waterkeeper Alliance will
consider taking whatever action is necessary if the state and
DuPont fail to immediately disclose and mediate the C8 contamination.”
Hope Taylor-Guevara, executive director of Clean Water for North
Carolina said, "Failure to protect the public and worker
health is what results when we allow companies to carry out voluntary
investigations and reporting, rather than holding them publicly
accountable, with oversight from environmental and occupational
DuPont’s Fayetteville facility is the only plant in the
country that manufactures C8, which is also known as ammonium
perfluorooctanoate (APFO) or PFOA. The U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board recently identified the
chemical as “a likely human carcinogen.”
A year ago, the federal government began investigating allegations
the company knew of and concealed information about the potential
harmful effects of C8 for years. In 2004, DuPont settled a West
Virginia lawsuit for up to $342 million in C8 cleanup and monitoring
costs. That case was brought by 50,000 residents whose drinking
water was contaminated with C8. Lawyers involved in the West Virginia
suit were recently named 2005 Trial Lawyers of the Year by Trial
Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ). TLPJ is a national public interest
law firm which routinely represents individuals and communities
in environmental and consumer protection cases. Salisbury, N.C.,
attorney Mona Wallace of the firm Wallace and Graham and also
North Carolina coordinator the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice,
called the West Virginia case “a victory for public health.”
She said that “Fayetteville residents and workers must be
protected as well.”
Amy Kaufman, executive director of the North Carolina Occupational
Safety and Health Project, said a federal regulatory agency should
undertake a formal health evaluation of the plant's C8 workplace.
“DuPont has done a great injustice to workers at this plant.
The Fayetteville plant should open its doors to an independent
health hazard evaluation in order to both fully understand the
facilities occupational environment and to address the potential
effect on the health of its workers,” Kaufman said.
In Fayetteville, some DuPont employees participate in a voluntary
blood monitoring program. The C8 Working Group has learned that
the chemical has been measured in the blood of some employees
at levels as high as 2,000 parts-per-billion. That is thousands
of times higher than the
“Community Exposure Guidelines” level of one part-per-billion
originally established by DuPont.
“DuPont is violating almost every aspect of its own "Biopersistent
Materials" policy, from the handling of toxic manufacturing
materials to open communication about this toxic and everlasting
compound, C8, in ground and surface water and the blood of its
workers," said Taylor-Guevara.
The North Carolina C8 Working Group has identified a series of
requested actions by DENR officials. Those requests include:
* Launch an immediate investigation into the cause and extent
of C8 contamination at the Fayetteville facility with regulatory
oversight by DENR.
* Top DENR officials meet with representatives of the North
Carolina C8 Working Group and other interested parties to discuss
public and worker health and safety concerns.
* Improved monitoring of C8 water discharges and begin monitoring
air discharges of C8 at the Fayetteville facility.
* Urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate
the possibility that unauthorized discharges of wastewater from
the Fayetteville facility contributed to C8 contamination of
groundwater and discharges to the Cape Fear River.
Make all reports and documents regarding environmental testing
and summary information on blood testing of employees available
to the public.
The North Carolina C8 Working Group
Hope Taylor-Guevara Executive Director of Clean Water for North
Carolina (919) 401-9600
Rick Dove, Southeastern Representative for the Waterkeeper Alliance
Amy Kaufman, Executive Director of the North Carolina Occupational
Safety and Health Project