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Teflon Maker Sets Aside $45 Million For Defense In Chemical Trial

Jul 28, 2004 | AP

Chemical maker DuPont has set aside $45 million to defend itself against a lawsuit that alleges it contaminated water supplies in West Virginia and Ohio with an unregulated chemical used to make Teflon.

The fund was contained in a footnote in DuPont's quarterly financial report released Tuesday. DuPont said its quarterly results through June 30 included "a charge of $45 million to establish a reserve in connection" with a class-action lawsuit over the chemical C8, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid.

DuPont has used C8 for more than 50 years in the production of Teflon at its Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg.

Neighbors of the plant allege that DuPont polluted their drinking water with unsafe levels of C8 and that the company knew for decades that the chemical was harmful to humans but concealed that knowledge from the public. Residents claim high levels of C8 in the water and soil caused health problems such as respiratory problems and cancer.

Environmental officials said the chemical has been found in the drinking water of the Little Hocking Water Association, which is the largest rural water system in Washington County in southeast Ohio. About 30,000 Ohioans are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

DuPont recently completed a $1 million study of its Washington Works employees who volunteered to participate in a health screening. The study examined employees who worked with C8 and those who did not. The company hopes to show that C8 does not pose a health risk to humans, a plant official has said.

Tuesday's financial report marks the first time DuPont has put a potential price tag on the C8 litigation. The first-phase of the lawsuit is expected to start Sept. 20 in Wood County Circuit Court. That phase will determine if DuPont should be required to provide medical testing to residents. Later phases will focus on property damages and restitution.

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