DuPont to pay $16.5 million to settle EPA case over Teflon chemical

DuPont will pay $10.25 million -- the largest civil administrative penalty EPA has ever obtained under any federal environmental statute -- to settle violations alleged by EPA over the company's failure to comply with federal law, the agency announced yesterday. Under the settlement, filed with the Agency's Environmental Appeals Board, Dupont is also committing to $6.25 million for Supplemental Environmental Projects...

Amount includes largest environmental administrative penalty in agency history

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 15, 2005 -- DuPont will pay $10.25 million -- the largest civil administrative penalty EPA has ever obtained under any federal environmental statute -- to settle violations alleged by EPA over the company's failure to comply with federal law, the agency announced yesterday. Under the settlement, filed with the Agency's Environmental Appeals Board, Dupont is also committing to $6.25 million for Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs).

The settlement, which still must be approved by the EAB, would resolve DuPont's violations related to the synthetic chemical Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) under provisions of both the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

The settlement resolves the four violations alleged in the Agency's two complaints filed against DuPont in July and December 2004, and settles four additional counts involving information about PFOA that EPA obtained after initiating its action against DuPont. Seven of the eight counts involve violations of TSCA Section 8(e) -- the requirement that companies report to EPA substantial risk information about chemicals they manufacture, process or distribute in commerce.

"This is the largest civil administrative penalty EPA has ever obtained under any environmental statue. Not by a little, by a lot," said Granta Y. Nakayama, assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "EPA takes violations of toxic substances laws seriously and is committed to enforcing those laws. This settlement sends a strong message that companies are responsible for promptly informing EPA about risk information associated with their chemicals."

PFOA (also known as C8 or Ammonium Perfluorooctanoate [APFO]), is used in the manufacturing process of fluoropolymers, including some Teflon® products, at DuPont's Washington Works facility in Washington, W.Va. Fluoropolymers impart desirable properties, including fire resistance and oil, stain, grease, and water repellency. They are used to provide non-stick surfaces on cookware and waterproof, breathable membranes for clothing.

As part of this settlement, DuPont has voluntarily agreed to undertake two Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) valued at $6.25 million. A SEP is an environmentally beneficial project that the violator agrees to undertake in exchange for mitigation of the penalty to be paid. SEPs are related to the environmental violation and further EPA's goal of protecting and enhancing public health and the environment.

The first SEP, valued at $5 million and to be completed in three years, is a project designed to investigate the potential of nine of DuPont's fluorotelomer-based products to breakdown to form PFOA. This SEP will help industry, scientists, the public and EPA examine the potential sources of PFOA in the environment and potential routes of human exposure to PFOA. The public will have an opportunity to nominate members to a Peer Consultation Panel, an independent group of scientists that will address specific charges identified in the SEP. DuPont has agreed to require the laboratories that it contracts with to perform work under the SEP to follow the agency's Good Laboratory Practices standards as well as prepare and follow a Quality Assurance Project Plan.

For the second SEP, DuPont will spend $1.25 million to implement over an expected three year period, the Microscale and Green Chemistry Project at schools in Wood County, West Virginia. This SEP will foster science laboratory curriculum changes to reduce risks posed by chemicals in schools. Using microscale chemistry, which reduces exposure to chemicals, and green chemistry, an approach that uses safer chemicals, the project will reduce risks to children's health and enhance science safety in all of the participating schools.

"We are pleased that as a direct result of this settlement with DuPont, valuable information will be produced for the scientific community to better understand the presence of PFOA in the environment and any potential risks it poses to the public," said Susan Hazen, EPA's principal deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances. "We are hopeful that today's action will serve as an important reminder of the importance of timely industry reporting of substantial risk information to EPA."

The violations resolved in this settlement consist of multiple failures to report information to EPA about substantial risk of injury to human health or the environment that DuPont obtained about PFOA from as early as 1981 and as recently as 2004. The seven TSCA Section 8(e) counts fall within three types of categories: human health information, environmental contamination, and animal toxicity studies. More information on the violations is available at: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/blab9f485b098972852562e7004dc686/826fe743d67d744685256f620074c136!OpenDocument.

The Consent Agreement and SEPs can be viewed at: www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/tsca/dupont121405.html.

The full record of EPA's case against DuPont is available to the public through EPA's Headquarters Hearing Clerk who is located in EPA's Office of Administrative Law Judges at 1099 14th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. and can be reached at 202-564-6263. Copies of the settlement are available to the public through the Board's Clerk who is located in the Colorado building, 1341 G St. N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20005 and can be reached at 202-233-0122.

Additional information on PFOA is available at: www.epa.gov/opptintr/pfoa.

In related news:
-- "DuPont to pay $16.5 million to settle EPA Teflon lawsuit" -- JURIST Legal News & Research, Dec. 14, 2005 (University of Pittsburgh School of Law) -- Chemical giant DuPont has agreed to pay over $10 million in fines and another $6 million for environmental projects in order to settle allegations that the company hid information about the dangers of a chemical used in the manufacturing of Teflon, the US Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday. The EPA had sued DuPont under the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for withholding information about potential risks posed by perfluorooctanoic acid. Under the settlement, which the EPA says represents the largest civil administrative fine ever collected under federal environmental laws, DuPont makes no admission of liability. DuPont still faces a federal criminal investigation of its actions in the matter...
-- "DuPont settles with EPA" -- Dec. 14, 2005 (Class-Action-Questions.com) -- In February, DuPont settled a class-action lawsuit for $107.6 million brought by Ohio and West Virginia residents in 2001, alleging the Wilmington, Del.-based company intentionally withheld and misrepresented information concerning the nature and extent of the human health threat posed by C8...
-- "EPA Action: Largest civil administrative penalty ever levied for DuPont PFOA violations" -- WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 14, 2005 (WaterWorld) -- Granta Y. Nakayama, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator for the Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Unit, was set to announce the largest civil administrative penalty the agency has ever obtained under any federal environmental statute -- against DuPont for violations related to the synthetic chemical Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), a key component in the manufacture of Teflon®, under provisions of both the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)...
-- "DuPont makes PFOA emissions reduction technologies available worldwide" -- WILMINGTON, DE, May 6, 2005 (WaterWorld) -- DuPont announced it will provide critical technologies to reduce emissions of PFOA royalty-free to others in the fluoropolymer industry. DuPont, in cooperation with The Fluoropolymer Manufacturers Group (FMG), a part of the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), has committed to reduce emissions from fluoropolymer manufacturing sites worldwide and also will reduce APFO content in aqueous fluoropolymer dispersions used for coatings applications. APFO is the form of PFOA used as a fluoropolymer processing aid. In addition to source reduction technology for APFO in dispersion, DuPont also is offering royalty-free access to its patents and technology for PFOA emissions abatement, water treatment and recovery for reuse...

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