November 30, 2005
New Discovery of C8 Contradicts
DuPont Claims, Say Citizen Groups; State Assumes Authority Over
By the North Carolina C8 Working Group
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Newly discovered contamination
of groundwater by a controversial toxic chemical manufactured
only at DuPont's Fayetteville, North Carolina, facility contradicts
the company's previous claims about the source of the contamination
and the dangers posed to people and the environment.
C8, also known as ammonium perfluorooctanoate (APFO),
has been labeled as a "likely human carcinogen" by an
EPA Science Advisory Board. It has been found in the blood of
DuPont-Fayetteville employees and is the same chemical that contaminated
public water supplies in West Virginia, leading to a class-action
lawsuit involving more than 50,000 people.
Since contamination of groundwater and surface water
discharges to the Cape Fear River with C8 were first discovered
at DuPont-Fayetteville in January of 2003, company officials have
insisted that it did not come from the $23 million state-of-the-art
C8 plant where the chemical is made. Instead, DuPont claimed the
C8 was a by-product of another chemical manufacturing plant located
several hundred yards away, or leakage from an old tank previously
used to store chemicals.
DuPont's explanation of the contamination and its
insistence on a self-directed investigation without regulatory
oversight, raised the concerns of public interest organizations.
In August of 2005, those organizations came together as the North
Carolina "C8 Working Group" (NC C8 Working Group) and
demanded that state officials assume authority over DuPont's investigation
and expand it to include, among other things, groundwater monitoring
around the C8 plant itself. The North Carolina Department of Environment
and Natural Resources (DENR) agreed and notified DuPont of its
decision in a letter dated September 23, 2005.
On November 18, 2005, DuPont informed DENR that
October groundwater monitoring next to its C8 plant had revealed
C8 contamination. Two of the four monitoring wells placed near
the C8 plant showed levels up to 147 parts per billion, much higher
than levels found in other areas of DuPont's massive facility.
The two remaining wells placed near the C8 plant were not deep
enough to reach groundwater. A total of
24 out of the 28 groundwater and surface water locations sampled
in Sept/October 2005 revealed C8 contamination.
Although the NC C8 Working Group applauds DENR for
assuming authority over DuPont's investigation, the coalition
says the extent of the investigation is still not adequate. Neither
DuPont nor DENR has agreed to monitor or sample for C8 in the
Teflon plant area, or other areas of suspected contamination identified
by the coalition. A C8 sampling effort at the facility by the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — called for by the
coalition and requested by the Division of Waste Management of
DENR — is not scheduled to take place until early next year.
According to the C8 Working Group, there is nothing
to indicate that state or DuPont officials are trying to find
the source of the C8 contamination found in the blood of DuPont's
employees, whether through air exposure, contact or contaminated
water in the workplace.
"It doesn't take much imagination to realize
that until we're monitoring employee exposure and ambient air
as well as comprehensive monitoring for C8 in all of the facility's
permits, we can't rule out exposure of the public, too,"
says Hope Taylor-Guevara, a biochemist and public health researcher
who directs Clean Water for North Carolina.
Rick Dove of the WaterKeeper Alliance has carried
out aerial photography of the plant, leading to identification
of several areas of concern to the coalition.
"Given DuPont's terrible record of contamination
and failure to disclose it at its other locations, this investigation
has to move very quickly to find the extent of any contamination
of surface water and groundwater,” said Dove. “We
hope it's not already affecting public drinking water supplies."
DuPont-Fayetteville's C8 is shipped around the country
where it is used to make products such as Teflon and other fluoropolymers.
DuPont became the only manufacturer of C8 in the United States
after 3M Corporation phased out its perfluorooctanyl chemistry
in 2002. 3M found the chemicals to be persistent and widespread
in people and the environment.
The federal government has been investigating allegations
DuPont 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.
Documents available: Aerial photographs, Memo from
Division of Waste Management holding DuPont accountable for RCRA
investigation, new sample results showing C8 contamination.
Clean Water for North Carolina