BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — DuPont, Chemours and Corteva announced on Friday an agreement worth $4 billion to settle lawsuits involving the use of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
According to a release by Environmental Working Group, DuPont was for decades a leading U.S. manufacturer of PFAS chemicals, which it used to make Teflon and other nonstick products. The group adds Chemours was created in 2015 when DuPont spun off its chemical division, in part to limit liability relating to PFAS chemicals. Corteva, formerly the agricultural division of DowDuPont, was spun off in 2019.
Chemours sued DuPont in 2019, claiming that DuPont’s liability estimates were “spectacularly wrong.” The case was dismissed in 2020 over procedural issues.
“For decades, these corporations have knowingly contaminated our drinking water, food supplies and the blood of virtually every person on the planet with these highly toxic chemicals,” Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs, said. “It’s long past time that the polluters pay for their malicious drive toward profits over public health.”
The release states that the binding memorandum of understanding establishes an immediate cost-sharing arrangement, including an escrow account worth upward of $1 billion to cover potential future legacy PFAS liabilities from before the spinoff. Under the terms of the agreement, expenses will be split 50-50, with DuPont and Corteva responsible for half and Chemours responsible for the other half. Both companies have agreed to share the costs of certain qualified expenses over a period no longer than 20 years or an amount over $4 billion.
Separately, DuPont, Corteva and Chemours have agreed to settle ongoing matters in the multidistrict PFOA litigation in Ohio for $83 million. DuPont will contribute $27 million, Corteva will contribute $27 million and Chemours will contribute $29 million to the settlement. The agreement resolves approximately 95 pending cases as well as unfiled matters.
“We are pleased to be able to resolve these personal injury claims for our clients … in a way that provides compensation without the need for additional lengthy and expensive trials,” said Robert Bilott, an attorney with Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP who is co-lead counsel for plaintiffs in the Ohio litigation.
PFOA and other PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and are linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental harms, and reduced effectiveness of vaccines, according to EWG.
There are no federally enforceable limits on any PFAS in drinking water, groundwater or soils, or any requirements to clean up PFAS under the federal Superfund law. Only five states have placed drinking water limits on a handful of PFAS, and the EPA has the ability to test for only 29 PFAS in drinking water.