Corporate heavyweight DuPont is back in court right now, defending their decision to poison entire communities along the Ohio River by releasing a toxic chemical known as C8 into the river. C8 is a chemical that is used in the manufacturing of the company’s blockbuster product Teflon.
The case alleges that DuPont officials were intimately aware of the dangerous side effects of C-8 exposure but still decided to allow exposure among workers and by releasing the chemical into the environment.
Once the chemicals were dumped into the Ohio River, they seeped into the water supplies of nearby communities, resulting in thousands of people being exposed to dangerous levels of C8. Complicating the exposure problem is the fact that C8 is biopersistent, meaning that it does not break down in the body or in the environment, and instead continues to build as exposure increases.
The case currently before the court is being handled by Mike Papantonio, the co-host of Ring of Fire (full disclosure: I work for Papantonio and serve as his co-host on Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV.) This is the second trial that Papantonio has handled in the last year, with the first resulting in a jury award of $1.6 million for a woman who developed a cancerous tumor on her kidneys. In that case, the jury found that DuPont acted negligently, but not with malice.
But the “malice” argument might be easier to prove now that a slew of documents have been unsealed from the ongoing trial. The documents show that DuPont was well aware of the dangers of C8 dating all the way back to 1961, and in many instances, their own environmental lawyers privately questioned the company’s decision to pretend that a problem didn’t exist.
Here are a few items found within these documents, which have been made available by the Levin Papantonio Law Firm:
- In November, 1961, a top DuPont toxicologist informed the company that C8 used in the production of Teflon was toxic.
- February, 1961: DuPont becomes aware that C8 exposure in rats was linked to enlargement of testes, kidneys, and adrenal glands.
- September, 1979: DuPont learns that monkeys exposed to high levels of C8 died, and that their workers who were exposed to C8 showed abnormal liver functions in lab tests.
- April, 1981: DuPont recognizes the link between C8 exposure and birth defects and removes pregnant women from C8 projects to limit exposure.
- November, 1982: 21 years after the company recognizes C8 as “toxic,” they finally recommend limiting workers’ exposure to C8.
- October 1983: DuPont scientists grow concerned about the levels of C8 being dumped by the company into the Ohio River.
- October, 1986: DuPont finally begins to worry about the “liability” they could face as a result of dumping C8 into the Ohio River.
- March 1988: DuPont learns of link between C8 and testicular cancer. DuPont then internally classified C8 as a possible human carcinogen. DuPont knew it was in the public water supply, but did not tell the public.
- February 1995: DuPont internal memo shows that they are concerned about the potential health effects associated with C8 exposure.
- August, 1999: In two separate emails a DuPont environmental attorney talked about C8, where he stated the following: “Too bad the business wants to hunker down as though everything will not come out … god knows how they could be so clueless”…“A debacle at best, the business did not want to deal with this issue in the 1990s, and now it is in their face, and some are still clueless. Very poor leadership, the worse I have seen in the face of a serious issue since I have been with DuPont.”
- August, 2000: DuPont in-house counsel writes: “The [expletive] is about to hit the fan in WV, the lawyer for the farmer finally realizes the surfactant [C8] issue, he is threatening to go to the press to embarrass us to pressure us to settle for big bucks. [Expletive] him. Finally the plant recognizes it must get public first, something I have been urging for over a year, better late than never, we are hoping plaintiff does not get there the next couple days, we need about a week. We boned ourselves again, such is life in big and I suspect little companies.”
- 2014: DuPont finally stops dumping C8 into the Ohio River.
The documents can be found here.
53 years passed from the time that DuPont acknowledged that C8 was toxic until they ceased dumping the chemical into the Ohio River. 16 years passed between the end of the dumping and the company’s acknowledgment that C8 was a human carcinogen. And not once during that time did they ever announced to the public that their health could be in danger, nor did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency step forward to warn the public about the dangers they were being exposed to, in spite of the agency fining DuPont $16.5 million in 2005 for concealing the dangers of C8.
One of the worst aspects of this story that is continuously overlooked is the fact that DuPont has replaced this carcinogenic compound with a different chemical that could be equally as dangerous.
The current trial will be coming to a close before the end of June, but there are still more than 3,500 cases left to try. And as the case develops, more documents like those mentioned above will undoubtedly come to light giving us a more complete picture of DuPont’s callous disregard for human life.