State of Ohio sues DuPont for dumping toxic chemicals in the Ohio River

Ohio has had enough of the chemical companies who have been polluting local waterways for decades. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the state’s attorney general is suing chemical company DuPont for dumping perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) into the Ohio River.

Also called C8, PFOA is one of the chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). They are used to make metal plating, computer semiconductors, water-resistant coatings, and fire-fighting foam.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established that PFOAs are no longer being produced in the U.S. (Related: Exchanging one poison for another: It’s costing the military millions to clean up chemicals from toxic firefighting foam, but the new formula isn’t any safer.)

Attorney General Mike DeWine stated that DuPont was fully aware of the health risks posed by PFOA. He also noted that the company discharged the toxic chemical into the Ohio River for close to 60 years.

“We believe the evidence shows that DuPont kept releasing this chemical even though it knew about the harm it could cause,” DeWine stated, who called upon DuPont to pay for any damage it caused to the state, citizens, and natural resources of Ohio.

The federal lawsuit filed against DuPont described PFOA as a known toxic carcinogen in animals that takes an inordinate amount of time to be broken down through natural means.

“Human Exposure to PFOA — even at very low levels — has been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension and low birth weight, high cholesterol and ulcerative colitis,” it read.

The lawsuit accuses DuPont of negligence that led to PFOA contamination of Ohio’s environment.

“Conscious disregard for the right of Ohio and the safety of its citizens has caused and continues to cause substantial harm to Ohio, and the property and natural resources it holds in a trust for its citizens and will likely cause substantial harm in the future,” it said.

Attorney General DeWine asked DuPont to pay damages for injuring the natural resources of Ohio, compensate the state for contamination-related expenses such as clean-up efforts, and pay restitution damages for any profits that the company made by dumping PFOA into the Ohio River.

UC study says DuPont discharged PFOAs into the Ohio River from 1950s to 2015

Ohio’s legal action comes on the heels of a recent study on PFOA conducted by the University of Cincinnati (UC) that warns DuPont had been dumping PFOA since the 1950s.

Researchers looked at the blood samples of more than 900 residents of the mid-Ohio River Valley from 1991 to 2012. They compared the historical PFOA levels to the general population median.

The UC research team reported that the likeliest origin points of the contamination are the DuPont Washington Works manufacturing plant and two associated landfills in West Virginia. Both locations are upriver of Ohio.

Furthermore, they reported that PFOA plays an important part in the production of Teflon non-stick coating at the DuPont facility. Researcher Susan Pinney said that DuPont released PFOA into the Ohio River from the 1950s until 2015.

DuPont facing thousands of other PFOA-related lawsuits

Ohio’s federal lawsuit is just the latest case faced by DuPont since the company was first accused of dumping PFOA years ago.

By 2016, DuPont faced 3,500 lawsuits filed by Mid-Ohio Valley residents in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where its Teflon plant and dumping grounds are located.

In addition, USA Today reported that the New Jersey city of Carneys Point filed a $1.1 billion lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit stated that DuPont sold off the Chambers Works facility in Deepwater, New Jersey to avoid paying the costs of cleaning up the area.

PFOA was invented at Chamber Works in 1938. The site is now owned by Chemours.

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