OHIO RIVER VILLAGE DuPont settles pollution suit, relieving many

The company will do a health study to find out if a chemical, C8, is harmful.
LITTLE HOCKING, Ohio (AP) -- News that DuPont has agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing it of contaminating local drinking water has been greeted with relief from residents of this Ohio River village.
"We need them. They're a good neighbor," resident Mary Lou Beikirch told The Columbus Dispatch. "But when you make a mess you have to clean it up, just like a little kid."
Agrees to pay
The chemical giant agreed Thursday to pay up to $343 million to settle claims that C8 has contaminated local water supplies and threatens the health of those who live close to the Washington Works plant near Parkersburg, W.Va., about 10 miles away from this town of 1,000 people.
C8 is used to make Teflon and other products. DuPont maintains that the chemical, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, does not pose a health problem.
The case had been set for trial for next month in West Virginia.
Affected residents
About 60,000 area residents thought to have been affected by C8 will share $50 million under the settlement. If divided equally, the average payment would be about $800.
"The money will help with my model-airplane building," said Beikirch's husband, Ed. "But if [the suit] hadn't been pursued, who knows how long it would have taken DuPont to do anything."
The plaintiffs' attorneys would share $22.6 million. Dupont would pay $20 million to fund local health projects and $5 million to study the health effects of C8 on residents.
If an independent, scientific panel finds a link to health problems, DuPont would pay up to $235 million to monitor the health of residents.
DuPont also has agreed to pay $10 million to help remove as much C8 from area water supplies as possible.
"We'd obviously proceed on that once an agreement is reached," DuPont spokesman Clif Webb said Friday. "We think we could have an agreement in place by December. We would certainly move quickly after that."
DuPont said it will install carbon-filtration systems that would reduce C8 levels in the water.
"They have something to fix it? Good, I figured they did," said Glenna Day, a Little Hocking retiree. "I can't afford bottled water, and I couldn't carry the gallon jugs if I could."
The health study could be the best part of the settlement, said Laurie Clark, who lives across the Ohio River from the plant.
"It will tell us if it was harmful, because that's not a fact we know yet," said Clark.
She said she doesn't worry about C8, but Sharon Taggart, whose husband, Harold "Kenny," has the chemical in his blood after working in the plant for 32 years, wasn't sure.
The couple use tap water to cook and bathe but buy bottled drinking water.
Before he retired in 1985, a DuPont nurse told Harold Taggart not to donate blood because of C8.

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