PFOA 2006
EPA urged to monitor DuPont N.C. plant.
By Jeff Montgomery. The News Journal (Delaware). January 18, 2006.


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January 18, 2006

The News Journal (Delaware)

EPA urged to monitor DuPont N.C. plant


Environmental groups Tuesday said federal agencies should actively guide monitoring of pollution released at DuPont Co.'s Fayetteville, N.C., plant where a key chemical in Teflon production is made.

The North Carolina C8 Working Group request focused on chemicals already targeted in a wide-ranging Environmental Protection Agency risk study. The same chemicals have been the target of federal enforcement actions and private lawsuits that could cost the company hundreds of millions in settlements and penalties.

The group called the company and government response to threats from the chemicals -- used to make Teflon and related products -- "inadequate."

Later this month, the company, with the EPA's participation, will take groundwater samples at the Fayetteville site for testing. But environmental groups said the federal agency should take more of a lead role in the process.

"We believe EPA's participation in the January sampling, as it is now proposed, will only serve to legitimize an investigation that at best could be described as woefully inadequate, and at worst, a coverup," the groups said in a letter to the EPA.

DuPont's Fayetteville plant is the only American site now producing the chemical, known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA. One federal advisory board labeled the chemical a "probable" carcinogen, and other human health risks are under study.

North Carolina organizations and the Environmental Working Group, based in Washington, D.C., noted a series of incidents involving air, water and ground contamination involving PFOA and related compounds. Some company workers have blood concentrations of the chemical far exceeding national or workplace averages, the groups pointed out. But company, state and federal actions appeared to leave DuPont in control of the investigation, they say.

"One: we know its dangerous, and two: we know it's getting off site" at the Fayetteville plant, said Rick Dove, who directs the North Carolina Water Keeper Alliance. "We want some answers."

DuPont said Tuesday it "strongly" disputes the claims, saying it has extensively monitored groundwater and plant emissions. Company officials also accused the Environmental Working Group, with waging a "campaign of untruths" against the company."

DuPont said Friday it has found no evidence of health threats caused by PFOA. Teflon products, the company said, are free of the chemical.

"We are in full compliance with reporting requirements." the company said in a written statement. "DuPont also leads our industry in emissions reductions of PFOA, which we have reduced by 98 percent nationwide."

Pollution from the compound near a DuPont plant in West Virginia left some residents reliant on bottled water. The company established a $108 million reserve last year to pay class action lawsuit settlements to West Virginia and Ohio residents. The possibility of medical monitoring expenses could balloon that figure to $235 million.

Blood of workers at DuPont's Chambers Works, in Deepwater, N.J., near the foot of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, is being tested for exposure to the same chemical. One federal penalty action announced late last month also required the company to evaluate risks posed by Teflon-related chemicals handled at Chambers Works and other factories around the globe.

Contact Jeff Montgomery at 678-4277 or

AT A GLANCE - DuPont Co. began testing the blood of workers at Chambers Works plant in Deepwater, N.J., for exposure to the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA.

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