January 18, 2006
The News Journal (Delaware)
EPA urged to monitor DuPont N.C. plant
By JEFF MONTGOMERY
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
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
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
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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