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EPA Alleges DuPont Failed To Report Information About The Hazards of C8

Jul 9, 2004 | The Parkersburg News

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to take "administrative action" against DuPont Corp. for failure to report information on health risks of C8, which the agency alleges in a complaint filed Thursday.

The complaint was filed after a year-long investigation into allegations made by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group that the company had withheld information about C8 risks. Perfluorooctanate acid, commonly known as C8 or PFOA, has been used in the Teflon-making process at DuPont Washington Works for more than 50 years.

The agency has mentioned no specific fines, but said in its release it has the authority to seek a penalty of $25,000 a day for violations occurring before Jan. 30, 1997 and up to $27,500 a day for violations occurring thereafter.

With some of the alleged violations occurring in the 1980s, those fines could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

However, it will be some time before specific fines would even be discussed, DuPont officials said.

DuPont has 30 days to request a hearing. Company officials said they plan to file a denial of the complaint within that period.

First, the EPA and DuPont will present their cases before an EPA judge, said Clif Webb, director of public affairs for DuPont.

If the ruling is against DuPont, penalties will be discussed in a later hearing and DuPont can challenge that ruling in a federal appellate court of its choosing, Webb said.

The complaint alleges DuPont failed to report documents which indicate the company observed C8 levels in blood samples taken from pregnant workers and at least one woman had transferred the chemical to her unborn child. Other documents indicate levels of C8 in drinking water beyond company guidelines, the report claims.

Under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, companies must report new information that "reasonably supports the conclusion" that a chemical "presents a substantial risk of injury to health."

DuPont maintains that C8 is not harmful and that nothing in the documents supports any such conclusion.

The EPA learned of these documents after the company released them to the plaintiff attorneys in a class-action lawsuit filed by residents living near the plant, according to an agency release.

In 2002, the EPA launched a review of C8 in response to studies that linked the chemical to health problems.

"The information that DuPont had obtained about PFOA was, and continues to be, pertinent to the agency's ongoing work to better understand PFOA," the release says.

One May 1981 document concerned blood sampling of a pregnant employee, who had 0.078 parts per million C8 in her blood. According to the complaint, the woman was described as having a "normal child born in April 1981. Umbilical cord blood 0.055 ppm."

The presence of C8 in umbilical cord blood should have been reported, the agency maintains.

"The existence of 0.055 ppm of PFOA in umbilical cord blood demonstrates PFOA movement in humans, and specifically that PFOA moved from the mother, through the placenta, to the fetus. DuPont did not immediately submit, nor has it ever submitted, this human blood sampling information concerning the transplacental movement of PFOA, a chemical known then to be persistent, to demonstrate liver toxicity in animals and that DuPont was reviewing for possible birth defects," the complaint says.

The complaint says "the agency considers the human blood sampling information confirming transplacental movement of PFOA in humans to reasonably support the conclusion of a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment."

The complaint says DuPont was required to inform the agency of the blood sampling "every day between June 15, 1981 and March 6, 2001." By DAVE PAYNE Sr.

Staff Writer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to take "administrative action" against DuPont Corp. for failure to report information on health risks of C8, which the agency alleges in a complaint filed Thursday.

The complaint was filed after a year-long investigation into allegations made by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group that the company had withheld information about C8 risks. Perfluorooctanate acid, commonly known as C8 or PFOA, has been used in the Teflon-making process at DuPont Washington Works for more than 50 years.

The agency has mentioned no specific fines, but said in its release it has the authority to seek a penalty of $25,000 a day for violations occurring before Jan. 30, 1997 and up to $27,500 a day for violations occurring thereafter.

With some of the alleged violations occurring in the 1980s, those fines could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

However, it will be some time before specific fines would even be discussed, DuPont officials said.

DuPont has 30 days to request a hearing. Company officials said they plan to file a denial of the complaint within that period.

First, the EPA and DuPont will present their cases before an EPA judge, said Clif Webb, director of public affairs for DuPont.

If the ruling is against DuPont, penalties will be discussed in a later hearing and DuPont can challenge that ruling in a federal appellate court of its choosing, Webb said.

The complaint alleges DuPont failed to report documents which indicate the company observed C8 levels in blood samples taken from pregnant workers and at least one woman had transferred the chemical to her unborn child. Other documents indicate levels of C8 in drinking water beyond company guidelines, the report claims.

Under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, companies must report new information that "reasonably supports the conclusion" that a chemical "presents a substantial risk of injury to health."

DuPont maintains that C8 is not harmful and that nothing in the documents supports any such conclusion.

The EPA learned of these documents after the company released them to the plaintiff attorneys in a class-action lawsuit filed by residents living near the plant, according to an agency release.

Harry Deitzler, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the case, said he was pleased with the agency's action.

"They (EPA) have cases to deal with all over the country, so I can understand their timing. It looks like they are just finally waking up to what has been going on at DuPont," Deitzler said.

In 2002, the EPA launched a review of C8 in response to studies that linked the chemical to health problems.

"The information that DuPont had obtained about PFOA was, and continues to be, pertinent to the agency's ongoing work to better understand PFOA," the release says.

One May 1981 document concerned blood sampling of a pregnant employee, who had 0.078 parts per million C8 in her blood. According to the complaint, the woman was described as having a "normal child born in April 1981. Umbilical cord blood 0.055 ppm."

The presence of C8 in umbilical cord blood should have been reported, the agency maintains.

"The existence of 0.055 ppm of PFOA in umbilical cord blood demonstrates PFOA movement in humans, and specifically that PFOA moved from the mother, through the placenta, to the fetus. DuPont did not immediately submit, nor has it ever submitted, this human blood sampling information concerning the transplacental movement of PFOA, a chemical known then to be persistent, to demonstrate liver toxicity in animals and that DuPont was reviewing for possible birth defects," the complaint says.

The complaint says "the agency considers the human blood sampling information confirming transplacental movement of PFOA in humans to reasonably support the conclusion of a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment."

The complaint says DuPont was required to inform the agency of the blood sampling "every day between June 15, 1981 and March 6, 2001."


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