Judge OKs $107.6 million settlement against DuPont over alleged poisoning of water

Monday, February 28th 2005, 2:42 pm
By: News On 6

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) _ A judge Monday approved a $107.6 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit against DuPont Co. in which residents alleged that a chemical used in making the nonstick substance Teflon contaminated their water supplies.

The lawsuit was filed in August 2001 on behalf of residents living near the Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg, who said their drinking supplies were contaminated by perfluorooctanoic acid, known as PFOA or C8.

Under the agreement, blood tests will be conducted on residents with wells and current and former customers of six area water districts to determine who is eligible to receive damages.

DuPont has denied any wrongdoing but said in September that it decided to settle the case because of the time and expense of litigation. The company did not immediately comment on the settlement Monday.

The agreement calls for DuPont, based in Wilmington, Del., to provide the six local water utilities with new treatment equipment to reduce PFOA in water supplies at an estimated cost of $10 million. The company must also fund a $5 million independent study to determine if PFOA makes people sick and pay $22.6 million in legal fees and expenses for residents who sued.

Ultimately DuPont could be forced to spend another $235 million on a program to monitor the health of residents who were exposed to the chemical, according to the terms of the settlement.

DuPont has reduced its C8 emissions by 95 percent since the original lawsuit was filed in August 2001, said the plaintiffs' attorney, Harry Deitzler.

Last July, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency alleged that DuPont repeatedly failed over a 20-year period to submit required information about C8. The EPA is seeking millions of dollars in fines for violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The company is challenging the fines.