IS DUPONT GUILTY OF "TOXIC SLUDGE?" - Case Kicked Back To Supreme Court, DuPont Wants Memos Sealed

By Bob Weaver

A lawsuit that alleges DuPont Co. contaminated the drinking water of as many as 50,000 Wood County residents is headed back to the state Supreme Court.

Several hundred Calhouners and men from regional counties have spent their lifetime working for DuPont.

Justices will decide if the public will see three internal documents that DuPont attorneys want to keep secret.

One of the internal documents identified as "Win for DuPont," details the views of company lawyers about DuPont's liability for C8 contamination of area water supplies.

Earlier this year, DuPont asked the Supreme Court to block Wood Circuit Judge George W. Hill Jr. from releasing the records. The court temporarily sealed the documents, asking that Hill review the documents again with a "legal test." Hill responded to the Supreme Court, saying he saw no reason why the documents could not be unsealed.

"Granted, it is prejudicial to DuPont ... but the nature of a lawsuit is one party trying to show prejudice against another," Hill said.

Hill has been presiding over a case in which plant neighbors allege DuPont's Washington Works polluted their water with unsafe levels of C8, a chemical used for Teflon at the plant for over 50 years

The suit began with a few area residents claiming their water was contaminated, which has or could create health problems for their families.

The suit says during at last 50 years, C8 and DuPont's emissions to land, air and water have been basically unregulated.

The suit claims that the chemical giant has known for decades that C8 was harmful to humans, but concealed that knowledge from the public.

The suit has been back and forth between Wood Circuit Court and the Supreme Court on several issues.

DuPont has taken numerous stands against Judge Hill, who has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, but Hill has said "It is the only way to get to the bottom of the matter."

The court overturned a ruling by Hill that required DuPont to test the blood of area residents to see if they have been exposed to C8.

The company said such broad testing was too expensive.

DuPont lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court to force Hill to step down from hearing the case. They declined.

The plaintiffs' attorneys have obtained about one million pages of company documents.

Using those documents, environmental groups and the media have pieced together a history about C8 that suggests DuPont knew far more about the chemical's dangers than it told the public.

Lawyers for the Wood County residents outlined numerous studies by DuPont that found C8 was a risk to plant workers. They claim the plant workers were never told about the risks.

DuPont's own models show that area residents already have more than 1,000 times the C8 in their blood that federal regulators consider a potential health risk, say the attorneys.

DuPont claims no harm has been done to the community or their workers.

DuPont workers interviewed by the Hur Herald, mostly Calhoun natives, have generally stated they believe DuPont is not guilty of harming the public.