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DuPont CEO Foresees Settlements in Liability Cases Over PFAS (1)

May 5, 2020, 1:48 PMUpdated: May 5, 2020, 5:55 PM

DuPont is hoping to settle PFAS liability cases that have become a dark cloud over the company, its CEO said Tuesday.

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., also known as DuPont, was the target of about 3,500 personal injury and other liability claims arising from PFAS-contaminated drinking water near its Parkersburg, W.Va., facility. Many of the cases were settled in 2017, leaving a few dozen open in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

“There will be a settlement there, we’ll get those cases in Ohio behind us,” Edward Breen, the company’s chief executive officer, said of the remaining cases in an earnings call Tuesday.

PFAS, also known as per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances, have for decades been used to manufacture nonstick and stain-resistant coatings for consumer goods, such as DuPont’s Teflon cookware. They have also been used in clothing, fast-food wrappers, carpets, and other consumer and industrial products.

‘Get Out of Those Cases’

DuPont has also been enmeshed in a lawsuit brought by its spinoff, the Chemours Co., over the cost of cleaning up PFAS spread from historical manufacturing operations. A judge ruled in March the companies must go back to arbitration. Chemours appealed the judge’s decision.

DuPont expects to settle that case and renegotiate its agreement with Chemours, Breen said Tuesday. David Rosen, a spokesman for Chemours, declined to comment.

The cost of environmental cleanup for legacy DuPont plants, including the facilities Chemours took over, could approach $1 billion over the next several years, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Breen also noted the company is being sued in “a fair amount” of cases regarding the health and environmental risks of firefighting foam, which often contains PFAS chemicals. The company never made firefighting foam, Breen said.

“The biggest issue for DuPont is to get out of those cases and be able to wrap that up,” he said.

PFAS are dubbed forever chemicals because many don’t break down in the environment.

The compounds may cause adverse health effects, including developmental harm to fetuses, testicular and kidney cancer, liver tissue damage, immune system or thyroid effects, and changes in cholesterol, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

—With assistance from Ellen M. Gilmer and Pat Rizzuto.

(Updates with Chemours response in sixth paragraph and Bloomberg Intelligence estimate in seventh paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Sylvia Carignan in Washington at scarignan@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergenvironment.com

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