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Explore our latest coverage of environmental issues, climate change and more.

DuPont Settles PFOA Class-Action Lawsuit In West Virginia, Ohio

A lawyer involved with a class-action suit in Bennington says a $671 million settlement by the company that made PFOA highlights the dangers of the chemical.
DuPont manufactured the chemical PFOA at its plant in West Virginia, and on Monday the company announced that it settled 3,550 lawsuits from people in West Virginia and Ohio who say they developed cancer after being exposed to the industrial chemical.

In a press release, the company said it denied any wrongdoing in the alleged health claims linked to exposure to PFOA.

Patrick Bernal is one of the attorneys leading a class action suit against the company Saint-Gobain, which owned the factory in Bennington that used PFOA. Vermont officials say the Chemfab plant poisoned about 270 wells in the area.

"The size of the DuPont settlement suggests to us that PFOA is dangerous and that DuPont is fortunately taking some responsibility for the problems they've caused," Bernal said. "We hope Saint-Gobain ultimately does the same."

Last week, a trial date was set for October, 2018, for the Vermont class action suit.

Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook said though the West Virginia and Ohio cases were significant, the chemical continues to show up all over the country.

"PFOA contaminates the tap water of 7 million Americans, pollutes the blood of virtually everyone and is found in the most remote parts of the planet," said Cook. "We celebrate the fact that justice has been served for tens of thousands of people in the mid-Ohio Valley, but we can't forget that PFOA and related nonstick compounds will continue to threaten our health for a long, long time."

DuPont lost three previous PFOA lawsuits. The settlements announced Monday comes from a 2001 class action suit filed on behalf of more than 50,000 in the Ohio River Valley who lived near DuPont's plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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