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Dupont Fined for Coverup of Chemical Health Risks

Suppress Rat Studies, Get EPA fine – Poison People, Get EPA Grants & Sweetheart Deals 

[Update: 12/29/10 – At least I’m not the only one disgusted by the Dupont story – see Charleston Gazette’s post by Ken Ward: EPA cuts pre-Christmas deal with DuPont

Ward is a professional journalist and he shares my concern on key points, including what I called a news blackout in NJ:

an EPA announcement was withheld until the middle of the busy holiday week. And perhaps I’ve missed it, but I haven’t been able to find much media coverage of the deal. If a quiet announcement was intended, then EPA and DuPont succeeded]

The US EPA just announced enforcement action against Dupont, issuing a $3.3 million fine for failure to disclose scientific studies of Dupont chemicals that pose “a substantial risk of injury to human health and the environment” (read the EPA enforcement document).

Interestingly, EPA’s press release yesterday generated at least 59 media stories, per Google, but not ONE from NJ. That NJ news blackout ought to tell you something. [Correction: Ed Rogers of NJN TV ran the story last night. I missed it because I don’t have a TV and Google media doesn’t track TV. Clarification: Jim Oneill of the Bergen Record has done many great stories on Dupont]

Dupont hid 176 scientific studies on the health effects of their chemicals. Such studies are required by law to be disclosed to US EPA under the “Toxic Substances Control Act” (TSCA).

This is not the first time Dupont has been caught in a scientific coverup – in 2005, EPA took another major enforcement action and fined Dupont $10 million.

The irony and absurdity of the situation was not lost on us.

You see, the studies Dupont covered up were rat inhalation studies, where rats were exposed to chemical vapors. For hiding rat exposure studies, Dupont is fined millions.

But for coverup of Dupont exposing people to chemical vapors in at least 450 homes in Pompton lakes NJ, Dupont gets off scot free.  No EPA enforcement Action – No fines and penalties.

Nada – Zilch – Zippo – – Instead of enforcement crackdown, residents get just EPA press stunts and manipulation of the citizens and chronic failure to mandate cleanup and promotion of real estate development.

Nor did we miss the absurdity of the fact that Dupont’s total lack of scientific integrity and compliance with environmental laws is seen as a qualification for membership  on the recently created NJ DEP’s Science Advisory Board.

And how about the hypocrisy of Dupont’s intimidation and attacks on the credibility of DEP scientists? They actively suppress their own science, politicize DEP science, and then have the balls to attack the integrity of DEP scientists?

Or the absurdity of Dupont’s sweetheart deal with DEP for Natural Resource Damages?

Or the disgusting irony that a company that repeatedly has been shown to lack scientific integrity and fail to comply with environmental laws, under NJ law is sufficiently trusted and allowed to privately self certify compliance with NJ’s privatized toxic site cleanup laws and receive liabilty protection from additional cleanup.

Or the ludicrous fact that the Obama Administration gave Dupont NEPA exemptions  and $8.9 million in stimulus grants (to a company with more than $30 billion in sales).

Dupont has poisoned communities throughout NJ.

At the Dupont Chambersworks facility in Deepwater, toxic chemical PFOA has been found in drinking water – Dupont paid an $85 million settlement and $285 million for medical monitoring in a West Virginia PFOA case. But nothing so far in NJ.

Dupont facilities create catastrophic risks where millions of neighbors could be killed by a plant release, yet they lobby Congress to block protections and corrupt EPA.

Dupont has a long and sordid history of poisoning workers, neighboring communities, and the environment.

Let me share just one smoking gun that perfectly illustrates the evil criminality of Dupont’s corporate conduct, an excerpt from David Michael’s superb book “Doubt is Their Product – How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health“.

Michaels recalls working with medical students at Albert Einstein College, investigating workers’ health at a Bound Brook, NJ chemical plant (then known as Calco Chemicals, then American Cyanamid, now Wyeth):

“… The union members told us that the Raritan River downstream from the factory would run red some days, blue others, and green others, depending on the work product at the time. They also told us about the bladder cancers that were afflicting several of their co-workers and about their lawsuit against Dupont, which produced the chemicals then used in the manufacture of the dyes. These chemicals are known generically as aromatic amines … The workers’ lawsuits had ended abruptly some years earlier, when Dupont’s lawyers produced a letter dated 1947 from a medical director for the company warning the medical director of Calco of the hazards on beta-Naphthylamine (BNA), one of the chemicals in question. The workers’ attorney told them Dupont would have been legally liable only if it had known or should have known of the risks posed by BNA and then failed to tell its customers. Since it had warned Calco of the dangers, their attorneys explained, Dupont was off the legal hook, and under workers’ compensation laws, workers are barred from suing their employer. The men with bladder cancer would have to settle for workers’ compensation payments, which would cover their medical bills and only a portion of their lost wages, with no payments for pain and suffering.

One of the workers gave us a copy of the Dupont letter, which contains information that, to my knowledge, had never been made public. The second paragraph begins this way: “The question of health control of employees in the manufacture of BNA is indeed a grave one. As you know, we have manufactured BNA for many years. Of the original group, who began the production of this product , approximately 100% have developed tumors of the bladder.” (page 19-20 – emphases supplied)

Sadly, that tells you about all you need to know about the Dupont Corporation.

So here’s to a real Merry Christmas to all the good folks over at Dupont.

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  1. December 22nd, 2010 at 12:18 | #1

    NOTHING should come before Human Life! Not the stock market, greed and bad behavior! Here the residents sit in Pompton Lakes, NJ suffering as they have, not knowing in many ways for decades and the residents thought the “right thing” was being accomplished to clean-up their neighborhoods and the site! Meanwhile, vapor intrusion arrives in 2008! The EPA – a news blackout in NJ? WHY?????? This is not fair and totally unacceptable. EPA – you must do the right thing for humanity and help all of those suffering. We are not lab specimens! The great hard-working citizens of the Pompton Lakes contaminated areas are deserving of your undivided help and attention. Please hold the polluter accountable and if our neigbhorhoods cannot be returned to the safe, pristine environment the rightfully deserve, get these people out of their homes and save their lives!

  2. Bill Wolfe
    December 22nd, 2010 at 12:32 | #2

    @Lisa Riggiola
    Thanls Lisa for your great work!

    But one point I need to make clear – see updates. NJN TV covered the sotry ast night – I don’t have a TV so mised it.

    ANd as you know, Jim Oneill of the Bergen Record has done an outstanding job writing the Dupont Pompton Lakes story. There was no criticism of Jim intended.

  3. December 22nd, 2010 at 13:14 | #3

    Bill – thank you for your kind words. My hope is that the “truth” will come to the surface and any that have allowed any thing relating to the contamination site in Pompton Lakes to be buried for decades will be held acountable for any wrong-doing. We are talking about human life here…and no one seems to get the seriousness of this issue! If people want out, they should be able to leave without a huge financial loss and those that want to stay should be able to live safely! Very simple formula and just some plain old good common sense! People are getting sick, are stressed and deserve to be told the truth! If it will take a 100 years to clean up the mess, speak the truth now! Why is that is very difficult for some to grasp? James O’Neill is a great and courageous reporter, not many around these days and a caring human being; The Record newspaper is stellar. I will try and find NJN Ed Roger’s report on youtube if it is available. Bill, we need some good news for Christmas, hoping, waiting and still nothing just yet!

  4. Don Levine
    August 31st, 2011 at 21:09 | #4

    My sister died from cancer and we grew up in Pompton Lakes. My entire neighborhood was affected and DuPont won.

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