“A pollution saga that could chip away at Chemours’ future prosperity is heating up in federal court after lawyers for residents who live near a North Carolina chemical plant accuse the Delaware company of underhanded dealings.
They want Chemours to stop communicating directly with residents whose well water has been polluted by a chemical, called GenX, found in Teflon and other products made by the DuPont spin-off company.
Chemours says the attorneys are ‘more concerned about identifying new potential clients’ for a class action lawsuit, than solving ‘alleged misapprehensions.’
Ted Leopold, a lawyer for some of the affected homeowners, is seeking ‘in excess of $1 billion’ from Chemours and DuPont because, he said, they ‘recklessly and negligently discharged toxic chemicals into the Cape Fear River.’
The river, which stretches between Fayetteville and Wilmington, North Carolina, provides drinking water to a region of 200,000 people.
In June, Chemours held a town hall meeting with angry residents who live near its Fayetteville plant. Tensions flamed as attendees yelled ‘shame’ at Chemours officials, according to a report from the Fayetteville Observer.
Police escorted two residents out of the meeting, held at a church…
The next month, Chemours sent an unsolicited letter to residents, noting the ‘frustration’ that was evident at the town hall.
The company offered to buy water filtration systems for households with wells that tested above GenX state health limits of 140 parts per trillion. Concentrations of the chemical in the Cape Fear River peaked at 3,700 parts per trillion in October following a spill at the Chemours plant…
Those who declined the offer for new filters were asked to sign the Chemours letter and return it to the company.
‘We recognize the … need to move more quickly to provide a long-term solution to address wells above the provisional state health goal,’ Chemours plant manager Brian Long said in the letter.
Studies on animals that were exposed to GenX ‘did show adverse effects to the liver and blood, along with liver, pancreatic, testicular and uterine cancers,’ according to North Carolina officials.
Chemours’ letter sparked outrage from Leopold and his team of attorneys at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, who are attempting to build the class-action lawsuit.
They called the offer misleading, arguing that North Carolina regulators had not verified that such water filters would solve the pollution problem even though the letter stated that ‘test results have been ‘filed with state and local officials.’ ‘
‘Chemours improperly suggests that government officials have blessed its test results,’ Leopold said in a court filing this week.
He also said that Chemours’ offer might have been designed to prevent, or persuade, residents from suing the company. In its letter to the homeowners, Chemours said the filters would be unconditional, requiring no ‘commitments, costs or obligations.’
‘Defendants’ counsel is unable to confirm that acceptance of a (filtration) unit does not, in Chemours’ view, moot any property damage claims,’ Leopold said.
Chemours attorneys ‘vigorously’ disputed Leopold’s characterizations, yet asked the court for more time to respond to Leopold’s call for a judge to supervise all future Chemours communications with residents.”
Read the full article by Karl Baker