The Chemours Co. and DuPont likely will reach a settlement in a lawsuit where Chemours claims its former parent saddled it with millions of dollars to clean up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in the environment, the company’s chief executive officer said Friday.
“The end point of this case is probably going to be a settlement between the two companies,” Mark Vergnano, Chemours’ president and CEO, said during the company’s second quarter earnings call.
An eventual settlement could result through arbitration or further litigation, he said. Chemours filed its complaint against the E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., also known as DuPont, in May 2019 in Delaware’s Court of Chancery. The judge, Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III, sent the companies to arbitration in March to resolve their conflict. Chemours has appealed the opinion to the state Supreme Court.
“It’s hard to get the right answer for both shareholders, but I believe we will find the right way to do that,” Vergnano said.
Vergnano’s position echoed that of Dupont’s CEO, Edward Breen, during an earnings call in May.
The cost of environmental cleanup for legacy DuPont plants Chemours took over is “staggeringly expensive,” Chemours told Delaware’s Supreme Court July 2. The bills in New Jersey alone will run into the “hundreds of millions of dollars,” it said. Controlling emissions from just one North Carolina factory will cost more than $200 million.
PFAS chemicals have been used to manufacture thousands of industrial, commercial, medical, and consumer products. While the chemicals are most often associated with nonstick cookware and firefighting foam, they also are critical to the production of electronics, semiconductors, wires, cables, and fuel cells, according to information Chemours provided during its earnings call.
The environmental remediation and emissions controls Chemours, DuPont, the 3M Co., and other companies that have made or used PFAS face stem from the propensity of some of these chemicals to resist nearly any type of natural breakdown in the environment. That’s led to their being dubbed “forever chemicals.”
Some PFAS also increase the chance of health problems such as increased cholesterol, decreased vaccine effectiveness, increased high blood pressure in pregnant women, and cancer, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agency.