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Sat, Sep 11, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Teflon giant offers to pay in contamination dispute


The DuPont Co agreed to pay as much as US$343 million on Thursday to settle allegations the chemical giant contaminated drinking water in West Virginia and Ohio with a key ingredient used in its Teflon products.

As many as 60,000 residents around DuPont's Washington Works plant on the Ohio River near Parkersburg sued over exposure to the chemical C8, also known as ammonium perfluorooctanoate, or PFOA.

If the settlement is approved by a West Virginia judge, DuPont will fund a US$5 million study of whether C8 causes disease in humans. If a scientific panel finds such a link, DuPont will pay up to US$235 million for medical tests on residents. DuPont will spend an additional US$10 million to remove as much C8 from the area's water supply as possible. That includes building state-of-the-art water treatment plants for communities in the two states.

DuPont will also pay US$70 million into a fund to be overseen by a court-appointed administrator, with at least US$20 million of that going toward health and education projects. About US$22.6 million of the potential settlement is earmarked for lawyers' fees and expenses.

The proposed settlement follows a July report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging DuPont failed to properly report the discovery of C8 in drinking water near the Washington Works and in the blood of pregnant employees at the plant.

The EPA is seeking millions of dollars in fines from DuPont, which has said it had no legal obligation to provide information about C8 releases.

Teflon is one of DuPont's most popular products. The nonstick substance can be found in everything from cookware and clothing to car parts and flooring.

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