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Delaware gets $25M after Ohio-DuPont PFAS settlement

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DuPont Washington Works West Virginia Ohio

A new $110 million settlement resolves seven decades of damage claims from the state of Ohio, primarily from contamination from the Washington Works plant in neighboring West Virginia, seen here in 2014. | PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA

WILMINGTON – Following the settlement of an environmental damage lawsuit filed by the state of Ohio over the disposal of so-called “forever chemicals,” Delaware will receive an additional $25 million from the trio of legacy DuPont companies under the terms of its own 2021 deal.

On Wednesday, Chemours, DuPont and Corteva – the tree companies spun out of the former E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company – agreed to pay Ohio $110 million to resolve a suit regarding chemical contamination spanning seven decades from the former company’s Washington Works facility in Parkersburg, W. Va., just across the border from Washington County, Ohio.

That deal immediately triggered a clause in the 2021 settlement with Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings to add an additional $25 million payment, because the size of another state’s settlement exceeded Delaware’s original $50 million sum.

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings captured an additional 50% in her deal with legacy DuPont companies. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

“We are thrilled that our forward-thinking settlement with Dupont and others is now $25 million more valuable to the state of Delaware. That’s 50% more to restore our natural resources, to support public health initiatives in impacted communities, and to keep our neighbors healthy,” Jennings said in a statement regarding the payment.

The trio of public companies, two of which remain headquartered in Wilmington while Corteva retains an executive-level presence, will pay for both the Ohio settlement and the additional Delaware payment from a $4 billion cost-sharing agreement.

Under the terms of that agreement, Chemours will pay $55 million to Ohio while DuPont will cover $39 million and Corteva will pick up the remaining $16 million. Notably of the Delaware payment, Chemours will pick up half of the cost.

None of the company’s admit guilt in the settlement, and Chemours told investors that the deal “furthers its objective to manage and resolve legacy liabilities.”

“This settlement is a victory for all Ohioans, especially those living along the Ohio River near the Parkersburg plant,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who originated the lawsuit against DuPont while serving as Ohio’s attorney general in 2018. “DuPont ignored the fact that the chemicals they were releasing were toxic, and this settlement ensures that they are held responsible for the pollution they knowingly caused to the environment. I applaud Attorney General Dave Yost for aggressively pursuing this case and for bringing it to a successful conclusion.”

From the 1950s through 2013, DuPont manufactured Teflon products using the manmade chemical perfluorooctanoic acid, commonly known as PFOA or C8, one of a group of synthetic per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals. The chemicals, used in firefighting foam, nonstick cookware, water-repellent fabric and more, are sometimes called “forever chemicals” because of their extremely long degradation period in the environment. They have also been linked to serious health issues including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, low birth weight, and high cholesterol. 

Ohio was the first state to legally challenge DuPont for its use of PFOA. In operating the Washington Works plant, the suit alleged DuPont released PFOA-containing emissions into the air and PFOA-containing discharges into the Ohio River despite knowing of the chemical’s risks to human health and the environment.

This latest settlement comes six years after DuPont and Chemours agreed to pay $670 million to settle thousands of personal injury lawsuits citing health problems related to the company’s use of PFOA. The proceeds of the state’s environmental damages case will address pollution from the Washington Works plant, damages from firefighting foam that contained PFAS, and damages to natural resources.

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