DuPont and Chemours will pay $670.7 million to settle about 3,550 lawsuits related to the release of the toxic chemical C-8, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, into the Ohio River from a former DuPont plant near Parkersburg, West Virginia. Both companies continue to deny any wrongdoing, the press release said.
"This agreement provides a sound resolution for area residents, Chemours, and the public", said David C. Shelton, general counsel, Chemours. A jury found the companies liable in a testicular cancer case and awarded $5.1 million in compensatory damages. DuPont and other companies have reduced their emissions and agreed on a voluntary phase-out of the chemical, but researchers are still concerned about a growing list of possible health effects and about the chemical's presence in consumer products, as well as continued pollution from waste disposal practices.
About 3,550 lawsuits have been filed in federal and state courts in OH and West Virginia alleging injury from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid in drinking water. DuPont spun off into Chemours in 2015. Chemours and DuPont have agreed to pay up to $25 million a year, for five years, to cover future claims, with DuPont paying the next $25 million if needed. If the total exceeds that, DuPont will pay up to another $25 million per year.
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A news release from Chemours Monday said the agreement "resolves all indemnification obligations between Chemours and DuPont for all of the approximately 3,500 claims in the OH multi-district litigation" adding the settlement "is not in any way an admission of liability or fault by DuPont or Chemours". If the whole $250 million is paid out, the settlement will average around $259,000 per claim, including lawyer fees.
On the other hand, DuPont concluded, Chemours "has retained defenses as to whether any particular PFOA claim is within the scope of the indemnification provisions of the Separation Agreement". Dupont purchased C8 from 3M from the 1950s through 2000, then manufactured it itself before eventually discontinuing its use. The arrangement will also pay for the jury verdicts, according to DuPont.