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DuPont to pay $3.3 million for toxic reporting violations

Read the settlement: http://blogs.wvgazette.com/watchdog/

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- DuPont Co. has agreed to pay $3.3 million in fines to resolve dozens of violations of a federal law that requires companies to report to regulators new information about the potential dangers of toxic chemicals.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency apparently reached the settlement with DuPont in September, but the deal was not announced until EPA issued a news release on Dec. 21.

EPA said the settlement resolves violations in which DuPont failed to report the results of at least 57 different studies that showed chemicals tested by the company "could present a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment." Such studies should have been reported to EPA under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA.

"DuPont failed to comply with the law and notify EPA that it had information on chemicals that could pose a risk to human health and the environment," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "EPA is serious about making companies follow our nation's laws and protecting public health."

But in settling the case, EPA officials allowed DuPont to keep secret the names of the chemicals involved in many of the tests.

EPA said only that the materials involved were chemicals DuPont was testing "for possible use as surface protection, masonry protection, water repellants, sealants and paints." All of the studies involved testing the potential dangers of inhalation of the chemicals on rats, the settlement document said.

The violations stemmed from a DuPont disclosure in May 2006 that the company had failed to report the study results on the rat testing.

That DuPont report to EPA came just six months after DuPont had agreed to what EPA said at the time was the largest civil administrative penalty -- meaning in a case that had not gone to court -- the agency had ever obtained under any federal environmental statute. In that deal, DuPont agreed to pay $10.25 million in fines for covering up studies about the potential dangers of the toxic chemical C8.

Specifically, the December 2005 settlement involved allegations that DuPont never told the government that it had water tests that showed C8 in residential supplies in the Parkersburg area in concentrations greater than the company's internal limit. Also, EPA alleged that DuPont withheld for more than 20 years the results of a test that showed that at least one pregnant worker from the Parkersburg plant had transferred the chemical from her body to her fetus.

In the new settlement, EPA documents showed that after its initial report to EPA in May 2006, DuPont then in July 2006 gave agency officials 109 studies of chemical inhalation effects on rats. Over the next 11 months, DuPont gave EPA 67 more similar studies that had not previously been reported.

EPA said it determined that 57 of the total of 176 studies met the test for mandatory reporting to federal authorities.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.


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