Dupont, a chemical conglomerate company and its spinoff company Chemours have finally settled a lawsuit that has been ongoing for decades. Dupont and Chemours have been ordered to pay $670 million to the thousands of victims that were affected by spill off and air pollution around the Ohio River that occurred from the 1950s through the early 2000s.
3,550 people from the Mid-Ohio Valley area have been affected for decades by a certain chemical which is used to make the nonstick coating Teflon. The chemical is known as C8 or perfluorooctanoic acid and has been known to cause cancer, specifically prostate, kidney and testicular cancer, according to some studies. It has also been linked to “ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension and high cholesterol.”
Beginning in the 1950s, Dupont’s Washington Works chemical plant south of Parkersburg, West Virginia, began emitting the toxic chemical into the air and the water of the Ohio River. In 1980 at the latest, the lawsuit states that the company was aware of the chemical’s cancer-causing effects, but failed to take any safety measures or warn residents of the area of the possible health consequences. In 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency fined Dupont $16.5 million for failing to report birth defect findings.
One study of people in the affected area found that “residents who drank water from wells near the plant had a median level of 38 parts per billion of C8 in their blood — 7.6 times more than the average American.” 200 of the 3,550 plaintiffs have developed cancer and will receive at least $1 million in the settlement.
Other settlements that have been decided over the past few years related to the case will be covered under the final $670 million settlement. For example, in January, a federal jury awarded a man $10.5 million in punitive damages as compensation for the testicular cancer he had developed. Earlier courts had awarded him $2 million. They have also lost two other suits prior to the final ruling.
Dupont and Chemours will split the payment of the settlement equally, so each will be responsible for $335 million to settle the lawsuits. Neither, however, will admit formally to any wrongdoing. Dupont argued in the case that they had already spent $594 million addressing the problem, while plaintiffs claimed that the company had almost $19 billion dollars that it could convert to available cash.
Unfortunately for the company, penalties for Dupont’s lack of appropriate oversight may not be over. Currently, investigators in the Netherlands are exploring whether or not they can press similar charges for C8 contamination from a Dupont plant.
Chemical contamination of drinking water and the air is often perpetrated in such low doses that the effects can take decades to show themselves. Environmental toxins can cause a wide variety of health issues and should be taken extremely seriously by both corporations and the government. If your area has been affected by chemical run off or air pollution, talked to an experienced attorney today to explore your options. You can reach trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
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