The Charleston Gazette (West Virginia)
October 25, 2005
Wood residents oppose DuPont permits
By Ken Ward Jr.
PARKERSBURG — Wood County residents turned out Monday night
to object to the latest permits for the landfill where DuPont
Co. dumped wastes containing the toxic chemical C8.
Under the permits, the state Department
of Environmental Protection does not limit the amount of C8 that
DuPont can discharge from the landfill into tributaries of the
“This community should demand that action be taken to stop
the dumping at this landfill and clean up what is already there,”
area resident Matt McDowell said.
The DEP held the hearing as part of a new public comment period
ordered by the state Environmental Quality Board.
McDowell was one of about three dozen area residents to attend
a public hearing Monday evening on the draft landfill permits.
Residents complained that C8 contaminated area streams and groundwater,
poisoning their drinking-water wells.
The 17-acre Dry Run Landfill, about 4 miles southwest of the
community of Lubeck, is at the center of a major controversy over
Since the dump opened in 1984, DuPont has
disposed of large amounts of C8-contaminated wastes in the facility.
Company tests have confirmed that C8 is leaching from the landfill
into Dry Run Creek at levels above the company’s internal
Steve Justice, a lawyer for the residents, questioned why DEP
should renew the dump permits when DuPont plans to close the facility
by March 31.
“Why is DEP proposing to give DuPont a permit for five
years?” Justice asked. “Why wouldn’t DEP start
negotiating immediately with DuPont to issue a limited permit?”
Justice also chastised DEP officials for declining to answer
such questions during a tape-recorded meeting. “After however
[many] meetings we’ve had, you would think the good people
in this room would deserve some answers,” he said.
Another resident, Jack Cottrill, said state regulators have continually
sided with DuPont over local residents. “The DEP will do
nothing,” Cottrill said. “The DEP has never ruled
in the public interest.”
DuPont has used C8 at its Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg
since 1951. Since then, C8 — and DuPont’s emissions
of it — have essentially been unregulated by state and federal
Fueled in large part by internal DuPont documents uncovered by
lawyers for Wood County residents, the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency has begun a detailed study of the chemical and sued DuPont
for allegedly hiding information about C8’s dangers.
Earlier this year, a Wood County judge approved DuPont’s
payment of $107.6 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that
alleged the company poisoned thousands of residents’ drinking
water with C8.
As part of the settlement, residents’ lawyers persuaded
DuPont to install new pollution control equipment at local drinking
water companies. The lawyers are also using most of the money
from the settlement to fund a landmark study of C8’s effects
on residents’ health.
The landfill permits were last renewed for a five-year term in
April 1998 and formally expired April 2003.
DEP officials “extended” that expiration date 10
times over the next two years before formally renewing the permit
for another five years.
When the DEP renewed the permits in early
March, the agency tightened toxicity-testing requirements and
toughened language for when DuPont might eventually have to limit
its C8 discharge.
After DuPont appealed to the environmental
board, DEP initially agreed to a settlement that would drop those
provisions and eliminate a limit on the landfill discharge’s
toxic effects on aquatic life.
Later, DEP backed out of that deal and
the environmental board ordered the permit conditions included
in the March permits put out for public comment again.
Public comments on the new permit will be accepted through Nov.
To contact staff writer Ken Ward Jr., use e-mail or call 348-1702.