Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

The Social Discovery of a Class of Emerging Contaminants

Little Hocking, Ohio

Suspected source: Chemours’ Washington Works chemical facility in Wood County, West Virginia.

Little Hocking has a long history of PFAS contamination, as high PFOA concentrations were discovered during the Washington Works plant investigation in 2002. Little Hocking is located across the Ohio River from the plant. The Chemours (a DuPont spinoff company) facility in West VA has remained one of the highest profile contamination cases so far, leading to widespread PFAS contamination throughout the mid-Ohio River Valley and a 2017 DuPont/Chemours settlement of over 3,500 individual lawsuits for $670 million.

DuPont’s record show that the company knew Little Hocking’s wells were contaminated since 1984. DuPont installed a granular carbon filter in 2007 to remediate PFOA contamination, but little was done to actually stop the contamination at the source. In a March 2010 letter to DuPont, the EPA state that PFOA levels in Little Hocking Water Association’s groundwater “are increasing and do not appear to have reached a plateau or started to decline.” (LHWA)

Little Hocking Water Association (LHWA) filed suit against DuPont in 2009 and reached a settlement in 2015, but details of the settlement were not made public. Ohio Attorney General filed another suit against DuPont in February 2018, claiming statutory and public nuisance, trespass, and negligence. The suit seeks punitive and environmental damages, and admission of DuPont’s responsibility, and damages for profits made from PFOA production.

DuPont and Chemours introduced GenX as a replacement for PFOA, claiming it to be less hazardous to humans and not as persistent in the environment. But their own studies have shown GenX causes cancer in lab rats, and it has been found to be at least as persistent as its predecessor.

In January 2018, after GenX was detected in three on-site production wells and one on-site drinking water well at the Washington Works facility, the EPA asked DuPont&Chemours to test water supplies near Washington Works, including Little Hocking, before and after carbon treatment. LHWA water samples were taken in late February.

In March 2018, LHWA informed its costumers that Chemours testing found GenX as high as 52 ppt in private wells and 81 ppt in public wells. LHWA has said that no detectable GenX levels have been found in their treated drinking water, though.

As of this date, there is a serious question as to whether the kind of carbon filtration used at Little Hocking will effectively remove any GenX before it enters your drinking water. — LHWA

Little Hocking officials are currently working to verify Chemours’ test results and identify next steps.


Additional Resources:

Media Coverage:

Full citations are available on the second page of the full contamination site tracker. We ask for your additions, changes, questions and comments be sent to pfasproject@gmail.com.

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