Fluoride Action Network

Wood residents oppose DuPont permits

Source: The Charleston Gazette | October 25th, 2005 | By Ken Ward Jr., Staff writer
Industry type: Perfluorinated chemicals

PARKERSBURG — Wood County residents turned out Monday night to object to the latest permits for the landfill where DuPont Co. dumped wastes containing the toxic chemical C8.

Under the permits, the state Department of Environmental Protection does not limit the amount of C8 that DuPont can discharge from the landfill into tributaries of the Ohio River.

“This community should demand that action be taken to stop the dumping at this landfill and clean up what is already there,” area resident Matt McDowell said.

The DEP held the hearing as part of a new public comment period ordered by the state Environmental Quality Board.

McDowell was one of about three dozen area residents to attend a public hearing Monday evening on the draft landfill permits. Residents complained that C8 contaminated area streams and groundwater, poisoning their drinking-water wells.

The 17-acre Dry Run Landfill, about 4 miles southwest of the community of Lubeck, is at the center of a major controversy over C8.

Since the dump opened in 1984, DuPont has disposed of large amounts of C8-contaminated wastes in the facility. Company tests have confirmed that C8 is leaching from the landfill into Dry Run Creek at levels above the company’s internal limits.

Steve Justice, a lawyer for the residents, questioned why DEP should renew the dump permits when DuPont plans to close the facility by March 31.

“Why is DEP proposing to give DuPont a permit for five years?” Justice asked. “Why wouldn’t DEP start negotiating immediately with DuPont to issue a limited permit?”

Justice also chastised DEP officials for declining to answer such questions during a tape-recorded meeting. “After however [many] meetings we’ve had, you would think the good people in this room would deserve some answers,” he said.

Another resident, Jack Cottrill, said state regulators have continually sided with DuPont over local residents. “The DEP will do nothing,” Cottrill said. “The DEP has never ruled in the public interest.”

DuPont has used C8 at its Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg since 1951. Since then, C8 — and DuPont’s emissions of it — have essentially been unregulated by state and federal agencies.

Fueled in large part by internal DuPont documents uncovered by lawyers for Wood County residents, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun a detailed study of the chemical and sued DuPont for allegedly hiding information about C8’s dangers.

Earlier this year, a Wood County judge approved DuPont’s payment of $107.6 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that alleged the company poisoned thousands of residents’ drinking water with C8.

As part of the settlement, residents’ lawyers persuaded DuPont to install new pollution control equipment at local drinking water companies. The lawyers are also using most of the money from the settlement to fund a landmark study of C8’s effects on residents’ health.

The landfill permits were last renewed for a five-year term in April 1998 and formally expired April 2003.

DEP officials “extended” that expiration date 10 times over the next two years before formally renewing the permit for another five years.

When the DEP renewed the permits in early March, the agency tightened toxicity-testing requirements and toughened language for when DuPont might eventually have to limit its C8 discharge.

After DuPont appealed to the environmental board, DEP initially agreed to a settlement that would drop those provisions and eliminate a limit on the landfill discharge’s toxic effects on aquatic life.

Later, DEP backed out of that deal and the environmental board ordered the permit conditions included in the March permits put out for public comment again.

Public comments on the new permit will be accepted through Nov. 2.