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,
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
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
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.