PFOA 2006
Editorial: DuPont payout should be fair.
The Marietta Times (Ohio). January 7, 2006.


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January 7, 2006

The Marietta Times (Ohio)

Our Opinion: DuPont payout should be fair

For decades, DuPont knew the chemical now widely known as C8 was leaking into public water supplies. For years the company said nothing publicly about the contamination because the chemical used in its manufacturing of Teflon wasn’t regulated.

It still isn’t. Even so, the federal Environmental Protection Agency felt the company should have alerted the public to the fact that C8 was in the water, and alerted the EPA that some of its own research showed possible adverse effects from being exposed. Late last year, the U.S. EPA fined DuPont $10.5 million with an additional $6 million going specifically to environmental projects.

Through that settlement, Wood County schools will get more than $1 million over the next three years to use in classes teaching students chemistry and science while being friendly to the environment, too.

We have to wonder why Washington County schools were left out of this plan. DuPont is located in Wood County, W.Va., but some of the areas with the highest levels of C8 in their drinking supply are located in Ohio. Don’t the students of Belpre and Warren school districts, both communities where levels of C8 are in the water, deserve to benefit from a settlement reached between the company and U.S. EPA?

We asked the EPA why Washington County schools weren’t included in the $1.25 million allotment. We asked the company, too. Neither would discuss it, saying the program was part of confidential negotiations.

So, we don’t know if jilting Washington County schools was calculated or an oversight. Either way, it isn’t fair.

Some of the students who will benefit from these programs in Wood County don’t have C8 in their water. We understand DuPont wants to be a good neighbor, but shouldn’t the company first reach out to the communities that have the most to lose should C8 turn out to be as harmful as some fear it is?

We also wonder what role, if any, the Ohio EPA had in all of this. Did our state agency go to bat for Washington County residents? We think it’s unlikely. From the beginning of the C8 issue going public back in 2002, the Ohio EPA has taken a hands-off approach. And that doesn’t bode well for Washington County residents.

Some of the wells containing the highest levels of C8 are in the Little Hocking water system. Residents of Ohio were part of a class action suit also settled by the company. And DuPont is paying for bottled water and filtration systems in both Ohio and West Virginia neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, a federal review of C8 continues in an effort to determine whether the chemical is harmful and if so, at what levels.

We think Washington County should be included in whatever settlement details are reached, and we think local students would have benefited from the programs currently planned for Wood County only.

DuPont has never wavered from its claim that C8 poses no health risk to humans. Yet it continues to settle lawsuits associated with the chemical. Since the contamination of local water supplies didn’t stop at the state line, neither should any positives to come out of the situation, such as money for materials and programs in local schools.

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