PHILADELPHIA -The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a consent agreement with E.I. Dupont Nemours & Co. (DuPont), which would require the company to provide an alternate drinking water supply to residents in communities surrounding its Washington Works facility near Parkersburg, W. Va. if water supplies show high levels of Ammonium Perfluorooctanoate (or C8), an unregulated contaminant.
C8 has been used since the 1950s by DuPont in its fluoropolymer manufacturing processes at the Washington Works facility. The company has historically disposed of C8 wastes through direct discharges to the Ohio River, into three nearby landfills and by air emissions.
Levels of C8 have been identified in municipal wells in Lubek, W. VA. and Little Hocking, Ohio, in the Ohio River, and in monitoring wells near factory discharges. This has raised concern since studies have shown C8 to be toxic to animals and persistent in humans.
“This consent agreement is a proactive approach involving the cooperation of the state and federal government and private industry to ensure residents a safe drinking water supply,” said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.
In November 2001, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, and DuPont signed an agreement that provides for the human health risk assessment of C8, groundwater and surface water monitoring, and plume identification and remediation.
Under the state agreement,a “screening level” for a safe level of C8 in drinking water will be established. The EPA order sets forth procedures which DuPont must follow to provide immediate and long term safe drinking water to users of public or private water supplies in West Virginia and Ohio where CS concentrations exceed screening levels.