PFOA 2005
November 30, 2005. New discovery of C8 contradicts DuPont claims, say citizen groups; state assumes authority over DuPont investigation.
By The North Carolina C8 Working Group. Press Release.

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November 30, 2005

New Discovery of C8 Contradicts DuPont Claims, Say Citizen Groups; State Assumes Authority Over DuPont Investigation

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.

Contact Info:
Rick Dove
WaterKeeper Alliance

Hope Taylor-Guevara
Clean Water for North Carolina

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