Chemical company’s response to water worries: Silence
Americans have grown accustomed to hearing apologies from everyone from cheating car-makers to cheating presidents, but a Fortune 500 chemical company with a pollution problem in North Carolina is following a different model: don’t apologize, don’t explain.
The company has said virtually nothing in its own defense about chemicals it may have discharged for nearly four decades, and it skipped legislative hearings looking into health concerns.
Earlier this month, North Carolina environmental regulators said they might fine Chemours, revoke its license to discharge treated wastewater into the nearby river and open a criminal probe.
State officials said the company chose silence over reporting a chemical spill last month as required.
In a rare response, Chemours said it’s committed to operating the plant, which employs about 900, "in accordance with all applicable laws and in a manner that respects the environment and public health and safety."
New tests have detected the chemical GenX, used to make Teflon and other industrial products, at levels beyond the state’s estimated but legally unenforceable safety guidepost in 50 private water wells near Chemours’ Fayetteville plant and at a water treatment plant in Wilmington, about 100 miles (62 kilometers) downstream.
There are no federal health standards addressing GenX and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies it as an "emerging contaminant" to be studied.
DuPont spun off Chemours into a separate company two years ago.
A jury in July 2016 found the two companies liable for a man’s testicular cancer that he said was linked to a chemical emitted by the West Virginia plant.
The two companies this year agreed to pay nearly $671 million to settle further lawsuits.