Residents say DuPont impeding science panel

By John O'Brien | Oct 19, 2006

PARKERSBURG - Parkersburg-area residents say DuPont has tampered with the terms of a $107.8 million settlement stemming from a lawsuit that alleged the company exposed them to the chemical C8.

One term of the settlement was the creation of a three-person science panel to examine the effects of C8 on the human body, but lawyers have asked for a court order from Wood Circuit Court putting an end to DuPont's interference with the study.

The panel was given no limitations on what it could test, and it chose to monitor employees of DuPont's Washington Works plant, where C8 was allegedly exposed to the water system. Initially, the plan was not met with resistance.

A DuPont attorney, however, sent the panel a letter that said, "Please stop all work related to an incidence of disease study of DuPont's Washington Works employees."

In response, the panel sent an e-mail that stated, "The science panel regrets DuPont's decision to cancel our proposed worker cohort study. The population in question, DuPont employees, is a relatively highly exposed population. Understanding the potential health effects of C8 in the community will be markedly enhanced by understanding the health effects of C8 in the more highly exposed workers."

The complaint says DuPont is preventing the science panel from proceeding as it wishes, pursuant to the terms of the settlement that was partly worked out by Charleston attorney Harry Deitzler, of Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee and Deitzler.

Approximately $72 million of the settlement was used on a 70,000-person health study that's results are to be provided to the science panel.

DuPont recently released a summary of its own C8 test of more than 6,000 employees and said it found slightly elevated levels of kidney cancer, heart disease and diabetes. However, they said the statistics were not significant enough to provide a link to C8.

The chemical has been known to cause abnormalities in animals, but its effects on humans are so far relatively unknown.

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