The state of Ohio recently reached a settlement of $110 million with The Chemours Co., Dupont De Nemours Inc., and Corteva Inc. to resolve legal claims of chemical contamination dating back 70 years from the company’s Parkersburg, West Virginia, facility, Washington Works.
“Chemours, a spin-off of DuPont, said it would be responsible for half of the settlement costs, DuPont would provide about $39 million, and Corteva is expected to cover the rest,” says Reuters.
The settlement money will be used to create an environmental restoration fund. Most of the funds (80%) will be used to address pollution from the Washington Works plant, 16% will go to address damages from firefighting foam, and the remaining 4% is marked to mitigate damages to natural resources.
“Among other things … the settlement resolves the State’s claims relating to releases of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in or into the State from the Companies’ facilities and claims relating to the manufacture and sale of PFAS-containing products. The settlement also resolves the State’s claims related to aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF),” states a DuPont press release.
DuPont manufactured Teflon products from the 1950s to 2013. Those products used PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals” because of their resistance to breaking down in the environment over time. Specifically, the company used the manmade chemical perfluorooctanoic acid, commonly known as PFOA or C8. PFOAs are a type of PFAS that have been linked to serious health issues such as kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, low birth weight, and high cholesterol. They’re also known to be toxic and carcinogenic in animals.
“Ohio was the first state to legally challenge DuPont for its use of PFOA,” according to a news release issued by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. “In operating the Washington Works plant, the suit alleged DuPont released PFOA-containing emissions into the air and PFOA-containing discharges into the Ohio River despite knowing of the chemical’s risks to human health and the environment.”
Chemours is the former performance chemicals unit of DuPont that spun off as a separate company in 2015. Corteva was the former DuPont agricultural division and became its own entity in 2019.
“Under a 2021 agreement with the state of Delaware, the Ohio settlement means the companies also are obligated to pay $25 million to Delaware for environmental initiatives,” notes Fortune. “As part of the 2021 settlement, the companies agreed to pay $50 million to Delaware and to fund up to an additional $25 million if they settled similar claims with other states for more than $50 million.”
Chemical makers have faced a staggering number of lawsuits in past years due to alleged PFAS contamination.
“In April, the [EPA] ordered Chemours to address PFAS pollution in stormwater and effluent from the Washington Works facility,” Fortune added. “The EPA said it was the first Clean Water Act (CWA) enforcement action to hold polluters accountable for discharging PFAS into the environment.
“According to the EPA, PFAS levels in the discharges from Washington Works have exceeded levels set in the facility’s [CWA] permit.”