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Dupont’s Tentacles Extend into North Carolina Science

[Update – Do you trust Dupont? Are they any more credible than BP or Goldman Sachs? In another killer story, Jim O’Neill of the Bergen Record reports: Dupont’s Danger Was Hidden Away:

The DEP and DuPont had been discussing that pollution privately for years. DuPont began drilling monitoring wells on its site to test for groundwater contamination in 1981. The DEP told DuPont in April 1983 to assess the impact on groundwater. In a July 1984 report to the DEP, DuPont said the groundwater was contaminated with lead, selenium and volatile organic compounds. It would later also be shown to contain mercury.

The 1984 report also said that “polluted groundwater may be leaving the site.”

In October 1985, DuPont sent a letter to some nearby residents, saying some groundwater was contaminated beneath the facility. In the letter, plant manager Anthony V. Scancella told residents that DuPont thought the solvents came from operations at the plant mostly during World War I and World War II.

He wrote: “I want to assure you that there is no health concern for you or your family.”

Two months later, Scancella sent residents an update — DuPont had sampled water from nine private wells from homes near the site and five had detectable levels of solvents.

In the reassuring letter, Scancella said DuPont was “instituting a program to clean up this contaminated groundwater.” He concluded: “I want to reemphasize that there is no health concern for you or your family from the low levels of solvents we have detected.”

The levels were not low. A DEP document from the period indicates one residential well showed contamination of nearly 5,600 parts per billion. The EPA’s current maximum contaminant levels for TCE and PCE, two of the solvents in the groundwater, are 5 parts per billion each.

Growing mistrust

 By 1989, DEP officials became impatient with DuPont. In a memo that January, the DEP stated DuPont “has done nothing to halt the spread of off-site contamination.”

“The off-site migration of the contaminated groundwater is a threat to human health,” the DEP said, and “requires the most immediate action.”

A month later, a DEP geologist reported that “at a DuPont-sponsored public meeting, DuPont informed people there was no reason for concern about the groundwater in the area. It appears that the public is possibly being misled about the problem.”

The State of North Carolina’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) has issued a draft risk assessment and recommended “Maximum Allowable Concentration”  (MAC) in groundwater for the toxic chemical pollutant known as PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).

Not surprisingly, Dupont, the corporation responsible for poisoning workers and water resources with PFOA, played a major role in the NC SAB’s deliberations.

One could fairly say that Dupont’s hired guns polluted the science (and pressured regulators at EPA).

In fact, the same Dupont consultant who polluted NC science, Dr. Tardiff, previously appeared in NJ to attack NJ DEP science.

Interestingly, NJ’s own Rutgers scientist, Dr. Keith R. Cooper, wrote in the April 19, 2010 scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicilogy that  Tardiff’s work contained:

“numerous errors, omissions, misrepresentations, and deviations from established risk assessment approaches…”;

The North Carolina SAB recommendations and MAC have relevance for New Jersey, as NJ DEP is now grappling with PFOA pollution, which has spawned a class action lawsuit. North Carolina’s SAB recommendation will impact NJ because: :

1)  North Carolina relied on Dupont’s science to reject NJ’s PFOA risk assessment approach and NJ’s far lower and more protective 0.04 ppb recommended safe drinking water level;

2) Dupont will use the North Carolina SAB recommendations to attack NJ’s science and undermine the development of its own NJ state drinking water “Maximum Contaminant Level” (MCL). Those efforts have stalled since NJ DEP released its PFOA risk assessment; and

3)  We have warned about the influence of regulated entities, such as Dupont, who is a member of NJ’s recently formed Science Advisory Board (SAB). If Dupont is allowed to buy its own science and use that to sway North Carolina’s SAB, you can be sure they will try the same manuever on NJ’s SAB.

See all the releavent documents in links from PEER press release below:

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