By Sarah Tinchner, West Virginia State Journal
Following a 2005 settlement agreement to address DuPont’s contamination of communities’ drinking water with the chemical C-8, Mid-Ohio Valley residents launched KeepYourPromisesDuPont.com Jan. 7, which aims to hold DuPont accountable for commitments made to the people of the Greater Mid-Ohio Valley.
The agreement spurred from a 2001 class-action lawsuit filed against DuPont in Wood County Circuit Court, which included all people within six named Ohio and West Virginia water districts, or users of certain specified private water wells, whose drinking water was contaminated with C-8 attributable to releases from DuPont’s Washington Works plant.
C-8, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, was used by DuPont in the manufacturing of Teflon at the company’s Washington Works plant near Parkersburg.
The settlement provided for payment of $70 million for a health and education project for the benefit of class members. The settlement also mandated that DuPont pay for the installation of state-of-the-art water treatment technology for the six identified water districts and private wells to clean C-8 in the water supply to the lowest practicable levels.
In addition, as a result of the settlement, DuPont has paid more than $30 million to fund a health study to determine whether there are any probable links between C-8 exposure and adverse health effects in humans. The C-8 Science Panel determined that C-8 has a ‘probable link’ to several diseases, including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol and pregnancy-induced hypertension. Based on the probable link findings of the C-8 Science Panel, which finished its work in October 2012, DuPont was required to fund a Medical Monitoring Program for class members with respect to C-8 linked diseases.
The C-8 Medical Monitoring Program is now available to all eligible class members. However, as of Dec. 19, 2014, only 6,111 of 98,956 potential participants have registered for the program and only $23,840 had been spent on these services, according to documents provided by Harry Deitzler, an attorney with Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler PLLC — one of three law firms designated as lead class counsel representing the people in the impacted water zone.
This is where the citizens behind Keep Your Promises DuPont come in, as they believe the company isn’t doing enough to publicize the program — so they’ve stepped in to provide citizens with that information.
“DuPont has been aware of the dangers of C-8 for decades, and they agreed to make amends with the people affected,” stated Keep Your Promises Advisory Committee member Joe Kiger. “Growing up in Parkersburg I have seen firsthand the impact of C-8 on my family and friends. For the sake of everyone impacted by this dangerous chemical, we must hold DuPont to their promises.”
Keep Your Promises is a community-based organization that is demanding DuPont keeps its promises to compensate the people who are sick due to C-8 now and in the future, to fund and effectively administer the community’s medical monitoring and to ensure that water in the affected water districts is safe to drink.