Why DuPont Executives Are Heartlessly Killing People and Wildlife — And Getting Away With It…

The 2019 film Dark Waters tells the true story of DuPont’s horrific deception and cover up in their use of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA or C8), part of a class of chemicals called PFAS (polyfluorinated alkyl substances) at its Washington Works plant near Parkersburg, West Virginia. DuPont had knowledge of PFOA’s toxic effects on its employees and the surrounding community exposed to it only years after it began producing its ‘miracle’ product Teflon in 1951.

In 1999, tenacious lawyer Rob Bilott investigated DuPont’s continued use of PFOA and continued cover up, despite DuPont’s prior knowledge of its deleterious effects over four decades. The resulting class action lawsuit revealed to the world a scandalous massive toxic contamination perpetrated by one of the largest chemical companies in the world. It also highlighted a previously unknown and unregulated chemical: PFOA or C8. None of this would have come to light had it not been for the actions of West Virginia cattle rancher Wilbur Earl Tennant, who lost hundreds of cattle—and his own life to testicular cancer—due to toxic C8 leachate from the adjacent DuPont landfill.

Here’s the rundown:

In 1951, DuPont started using C8 (PFOA) in its Teflon production at the Parkersburg factory and by 1954–the very year a French engineer first applied Teflon to a frying pan, a DuPont employee R.A. Dickison noted that this chemical was likely toxic. Internal DuPont documents reveal that signs of C8’s toxicity began to emerge very quickly as DuPont scaled up its Teflon production in the 1950s to rollout its Teflon-coated “Happy Pan” in 1961.  Even before DuPont started its Teflon line using PFOA (which is a form of PFAS), a 1950 3M study of mice showed that PFAS accumulated in the animals’ blood.

PFAS environmental cycle (image by Enviroforensics)

By 1961 DuPont toxicologists confirmed that C8/PFOA was toxic to animals. The same year as the Teflon rollout in 1961, their chief toxicologist, Dorothy Hood, cautioned in a memo to executives that the substance should be “handled with extreme care;” she explained that a new study had found enlarged livers in rats and rabbits exposed to C8, confirming that the chemical was toxic. It didn’t stop the rollout.

DuPont’s Washington Works plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia

In 1962, DuPont scientists conducted tests on humans, asking a group of volunteers to smoke cigarettes laced with C8. Nine out of ten people in the highest-dosed group were noticeably ill for an average of nine hours with flu-like symptoms that included chills, backache, fever, and coughing. Further experiments by DuPont linked C8 exposure to the enlargement of rats’ testes, adrenal glands, and kidneys.

In 1965, internal DuPont memos revealed that preliminary studies showed that even low doses of a related surfactant to Teflon could increase the size of rats’ livers, a classic response to poison.

In the 1970s, twenty years after 3M showed PFAS bioaccumulation in mice, DuPont’s researchers confirmed that PFOA builds up in human bloodstream. PFOA or C8 will be later identified as an endocrine disruptor–it interferes with the hormonal system and exerts its toxicity in unexpected ways.

By 1979, DuPont knew about studies showing that C8-exposed beagles had abnormal enzyme levels “indicative of cellular damage.” DuPont also knew of the recent 3M study showing that some rhesus monkeys also died when exposed to C8. They also acknowledged that the chemical was most toxic when inhaled.

In 1981, DuPont ordered all females off the Teflon division after two out of seven pregnant workers (in a pregnancy study) gave birth to children with birth defects. A DuPont pathologist confirmed that the observed fetal eye defects were due to C8. With that confirmation the pregnancy study was quietly abandoned and a decision made not to inform EPA. Less than a year later DuPont created false data for EPA then moved women of childbearing age back into areas with C8 exposure. Many in the company coined the term “Teflon flu” to describe the ill-effects of working in proximity to the compound.

Effects of PFOA (birth defect in Bucky Bailey whose mother was on the Teflon line without protection during her first trimester; blackening teeth from the excessive fluoride, from scene in “Dark Waters”)

From the beginning, DuPont had buried toxic waste in drums along the banks of the Ohio River, into the open ocean, and later in local unlined landfills that they had said were ‘non-hazardous.’ Because C8 escaped into the air easily, it was often shipped to the factory pre-mixed with water to keep the dust from worker’s lungs. And yet the C8-laced vapors continued to pump out of the Washington Works factory smokestacks. Virtually all of this activity was done when DuPont scientists and senior staff knew that C8 was harmful. One 2001 DuPont email describes a scientist warning that, when airborne, C8 is so hard to deal with that “it might require the public to wear gas masks.”

Despite knowing its dangers to public health, DuPont continued to use PFOA (C8). DuPont knowingly put its workers, local residents and the general public in harm’s way to keep making a huge profit. They kept it a secret so they could continue making a billion dollars a year on Teflon alone.

Testing the creek water

In 1982 DuPont confirmed that C8/PFOA was toxic to humans.

By 1984, Ohio River water samples showed toxicity levels of the compound eight times higher than normal. In March of that year, a DuPont staffer went into general stores, markets, and gas stations in local communities as far as 79 miles downriver from the Parkersburg plant, asking to fill plastic jugs with water for testing. PFOA made its way into the drinking water supply of residents in Ohio and West Virginia. In May of 1984, DuPont executives reviewed ways to reduce or stop using C8 and concluded: “None of the options developed are … economically attractive and would essentially put the long term viability of this business segment on the line,” J. A. Schmid summarized in notes from the meeting. The executives let “corporate image and corporate liability” rule over health concerns (or fears about suits) in their decisions to continue as usual. “By 1989, many DuPont employees were diagnosed with cancer and leukaemia,” reports Heimeriks and Surdu of The Conversation.

DuPont continued putting life in harm’s way; they didn’t stop the pollution and they didn’t tell anyone. In fact, DuPont scaled up its use of C8 in its Teflon products.

Lawyer Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) investigates Earl Tennant’s farm regarding contamination by DuPont’s Washington Works plant

By 1989, DuPont employees found an elevated number of leukaemia deaths at the West Virginia plant, followed by an inordinately high number of kidney cancers among male workers. Intercept reports that Bruce Karrh, Dupont’s corporate medical director, decided against follow up studies on liver enzymes; notes on the meeting include a handwritten suggestion: “Do the study after we are sued.”

According to Salon, PFOA (C8) was used “to smooth out the lumpiness of freshly manufactured Teflon. An unusually durable chemical, C8 first entered the world in 1947 and due to its nonstick and stain-resistant properties its use as a ‘surfactant’ spread with extraordinary speed. The white, powdery compound, often said to look like Tide laundry detergent, would ultimately be used in hundreds of products including fast food wrappers, waterproof clothing, electrical cables, and pizza boxes.” DuPont had purchased C8 from 3M until they phased out its manufacture in 2002 based on its proven deleterious effects and persistence. Undeterred–and unaffected by this knowledge–DuPont began making it themselves at a factory in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The 2016 New York Times article by Nathaniel Rich, The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” on which the film Dark Waters is based, details attorney Rob Bilott’s fight to expose that DuPont knew about the dangers of PFOA for decades:

…over the decades that followed, DuPont pumped hundreds of thousands of pounds of PFOA powder through the outfall pipes of the Parkersburg facility into the Ohio River. The company dumped 7,100 tons of PFOA-laced sludge into ‘‘digestion ponds’’: open, unlined pits on the Washington Works property, from which the chemical could seep straight into the ground. PFOA entered the local water table, which supplied drinking water to the communities of Parkersburg, Vienna, Little Hocking and Lubeck — more than 100,000 people in all.

Earl Tennant (Bill Camp) and Rob Bilott (Mark Rufallo) about to be attacked by a crazed cow infected with C8 from the Dry Run creek (Image from Dark Waters)

Slate Magazine confirmed that in the 1980s DuPont bought 66 acres from a former DuPont employee (himself plagued with a serious ailment doctors could not diagnose) and proceeded to use it as a dumping ground for sludge that they knew was toxic; they even quietly conducted tests for PFOA in the nearby river and expressed concern for the health of nearby farmer’s livestock in internal documents nearly a decade before they would deny culpability and blame the farmer in court.

By 2003, DuPont had dispersed almost 2.5 million pounds of harmful C8 from its Washington Works plant into the air and water of the mid-Ohio River Valley area.

Dry Run creek with toxic foaming DuPont C8 leachate (photo from Huffington Post)

In September 2004, DuPont agreed to settle the class-action suit filed by Bilott.

“Under the terms of the settlement, the company wasn’t even obliged to pull C8 from the market… the best the agency could negotiate was a voluntary phase-out by 2015,” the watchdog organization Environmental Working Group says in its May 2015 report “Poisoned Legacy.”

The settlement did trigger an independent health study to help prove that exposure to an unregulated chemical causes health problems. The C8 independent science panel, which took seven years to complete its research, ultimately linked C8 exposure to six diseases: ulcerative colitis; pregnancy-induced hypertension; high cholesterol; thyroid disease; testicular cancer; and kidney cancer. The panel’s findings, published in several peer-reviewed journals, were remarkable because they proved that the chemical pretty much affected the entire body, even at low exposure levels.

The C8 science panel concluded that C8 posed health threats at just 0.05 parts per billion in drinking water for people who drank that water for a single year. They found that the average C8 level in blood samples from the mid-Ohio Valley was 83 parts per billion. The average C8 level for those living closest to the plant – whose drinking water came from Ohio’s Little Hocking water district – was more than 224 parts per billion compared to 4 parts per billion for average Americans.

The Ohio River seen from Parkersburg, West Virginia

In 2017, DuPont and its spinoff company Chemours agreed to settle a lawsuit with roughly 3,500 people living near the Parkersburg plant in both West Virginia and Ohio and many ailing from toxicity-related problems. The company agreed to pay $671 million. That’s one day’s sales in a $27 billion annual profit stream.

In an interview with Public Source, Robert Bilott said:

We are talking about something where our regulatory system has failed and our legislative system has failed. The only way to date that people were able to get clean water and any kind of relief from being injured by this stuff was to go through the court system. 

How did something like this happen here in the United States, and how is it that it continues to happen? One of the things I really try to explore in [my] book [Exposure] is the connection between failures in the regulatory system, the legislative process, the scientific world and our legal system. There are some real systemic issues there that created this problem.

In 2019—sixty-seven years after DuPont knew PFOA was toxic and did nothing—this forever chemical was finally banned globally under the Stockholm Convention. Unfortunately, by 2019, PFOA was already literally everywhere on the planet in concentrations considered unsafe. Given its high water-solubility, long-range transport potential, and lack of degradation in the environment, PFOA persists in groundwater and is ubiquitously present in oceans and other surface water around the globe. It is even found in remote areas of the Arctic and Antarctic (where it was not used or manufactured), no doubt transported there through ocean currents and in the air, bound on particles.

Average levels of PFOA and PFOS in surface waters by country in 2012 (Konacheva et al. 2012)

As of March 2022, the EPA’s health advisory for exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water is 70 parts per trillion (recall that levels found in people in Parkersburg and area ranged from 80-200 parts per billion and the national average is said to be 4 parts per billion). EPA’s health advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory; they only provide technical information to states agencies and other public health officials on health effects, analytical methodologies, and treatment technologies associated with drinking water contamination. As a result, each state is different, with some states choosing a more conservative threshold limit in their drinking water regulations and others choosing not to regulate at all.

Over the past few years, DuPont, 3M, and other chemical firms have begun marketing C8-free Teflon, and recent studies show that the levels of C8 in most people’s blood are dropping. Unfortunately, the new chemicals that have replaced C8 are also raising concerns. “These next generation PFCs [perfluorinated chemicals] are used in greaseproof food wrappers, waterproof clothing and other products,” the EWG’s “Poisoned Legacy” report says. “Few have been tested for safety, and the names, composition and health effects of most are hidden as trade secrets.”

Sources of PFAS (of which PFOA is just one chemical)

Why is The EPA So Ineffective—and so Useless?

The following is an excerpt of the excellent article by Sharon Kelly in the January 2016 issue of Salon:

Under the toothless TSCA law that DuPont helped write, industrial chemicals – unlike pharmaceuticals or pesticides – do not have to be tested before they are put on the market. The law does require that the EPA keep a current list of all chemicals used commercially in the US, but it does not require that the chemicals be tested for environmental or human health impacts. Additionally, TSCA allows manufacturers to claim some information, including the chemical’s identity, as a trade secret.

Though the law also requires manufacturers give the EPA some information necessary to assess a new chemical’s safety, roughly 60,000 chemicals that were in use at the time TSCA was enacted were exempted from this rule. These chemicals include bisphenol A (BPA), formaldehyde and several flame retardants – all of which have since been found to present significant risks to human health and the environment. Today, there are more than 85,000 industrial chemicals in commercial use in the US – roughly 2,000 new chemicals are introduced every year in the US – but federal regulators have so far required only a tiny percentage of these to undergo any safety testing. You can literally count on one hand the number of chemicals that EPA has banned or widely restricted under TSCA: asbestos, PCBs, dioxin, CFCs, and hexavalent chromium (made famous in the movie Erin Brockovich). That’s only five chemicals in nearly 40 years.

“In many ways, C8 is a poster child for the failures of US toxic chemical law,” says Bill Walker, one of the authors of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) report on C8. “Between 3M and DuPont you have an increasingly damning cover-up. And yet the law is so toothless that neither company was really concerned about being caught by the EPA.”

The lack of safety testing helps explain why, back in 1998 when the Tennants first contacted Bilott, virtually no one outside of DuPont and 3M – not EPA field inspectors, OSHA chemists, or state environmental testing laboratories – had ever heard of C8. The two companies essentially had a monopoly on information relating to this chemical. DuPont used that monopoly to illegally cover up its own research that showed that C8 was making its workers ill.

“But for the lawsuit, it is very likely that the EPA would be completely unaware of this chemical as well its toxicological profile,” says Ned McWilliams, another plaintiff’s attorney. “This lawsuit quite literally blew the whistle on this still unregulated chemical.”

PFAS form finds its way to shore

The Heinous Nature of DuPont’s Deceit

In an article titled “The PFAS and the Furious” Ken Cook, President of EWG writes this heartfelt and excruciating truth:

“it is my firm belief that DuPont would still be poisoning you and your world with PFOA, and lying about it, if Rob Bilott had not pried loose so many secrets through 20 years of fighting in close quarters with a company that refused to tell the truth, and still does.

The most unsettling revelations in [Rob Bilott’s book] Exposure have less to do with the depredations of PFAS than with the broad and deep threats to our health and environment that originate in powerful, predatory companies like DuPont. There is no tale better told that so vividly illuminates the fecklessness of government regulators or the flimsiness of the environmental rule of law, in the face of the deeply funded, boundlessly ambitious and effective anti-regulatory racket global companies operate today under the protection of politicians they so affordably rent.”

DuPont Washington Works plant in Parkersburg

Why DO Corporations Knowingly Do Harm?

Under the overwhelming profit-motive of grossly huge and over-stuffed corporations, people aren’t people anymore. We are commodities, numbers—or “receptors” as DuPont called us, according to documents read by attorney Rob Bilott in the film “Dark Waters.”

In their February 2020 article entitled “Dark Waters: what DuPont scandal can teach companies,” Koen Heimeriks and Irina Surdu address the question: “Why do corporations continue to think they can ‘do well by doing harm’?”

To answer this, Heimeriks and Surdu look at the why and how of corporate wrongdoing. And here’s what they conclude: “While the stock prices of companies do sometimes drop when some kind of wrongdoing or failure comes to light, these losses are frequently recouped within  a short timeframe. One reason why companies might continue to behave irresponsibly after they become aware of corporate harm is that they expect this sort of limited effect on the share price.” Another study showed that corporate reputation often doesn’t suffer from wrongdoing, particularly if the wrongdoing takes place outside of company stakeholders’ own backyard. Distance bias plays an important role, especially in foreign ventures.

How can companies do well by doing good? Heimeriks and Surdu suggest that, “the secret to responsible capitalism is to create realistic long-term goals that will foster activities that are mutually beneficial for the company and its stakeholders. This will signal that the company views responsibility not as the unprofitable thing to do, but as the expected thing to do.”

I’m not sure I agree with Heimeriks and Surdu. What, for instance, is responsible capitalism? I find such a thing both paradoxical and problematic. Because, at some point there will arise a tension between altruism and selfishness; at the very least a tension between service and self-service. If the sole or even the most important pursuit of a company is to make money–to gain capital–there will inevitably arise the issue of “doing good.”

There are two reasons for doing good: 1) because we know it’s right and doing good fulfills us and makes us feel good; 2) we know it’s expected of us and we wish to be perceived as doing good. One comes from the heart, the other from the mind. One is an expression of inner self, the other a reaction from imposed outer self. One from compassion, the other from duty. One in service, the other out of self-service. I know what most companies will do; and this is precisely why government with a strong, wise, and fair regulation is needed.

If an individual operates based on the latter motivation, cheating will sneak back in, disconnect and disrespect will rear up, unfair treatment and quiet harm will slide back like an oily tide.

Here’s a summary of what happened at the DuPont Washington Works plant and who was on watch at DuPont when it did (bolded years are milestones in DuPont’s criminal deception):   

DateWhat HappenedWho was On Watch with DuPont?
19503M determines that PFAS accumulates in the blood of mice (PFOA is a type of PFAS, a family of human-made chemicals effective in repelling grease, water and stains); DuPont had registered the Teflon trademark in 1945.Crawford H. Greenewalt, President of DuPont  from 1948-1962
1951DuPont starts making Teflon using C8 or PFOA (a PFAS forever chemical) that it buys from 3M.Crawford H. Greenewalt
1954DuPont becomes aware of C8’s possible toxicity the same year a French engineer first applies Teflon to a pan; employees note that PFOA is likely to be toxic and begin to document its health effects.Crawford H. Greenewalt
1956Stanford University study finds that PFAS binds to proteins in human bloodCrawford H. Greenewalt
1961a DuPont toxicologist with Haskell Laboratory of Industrial Toxicology warns that PFOA/PFAS enlarge rat and rabbit livers, essentially confirming that C8 is toxic.Crawford H. Greenewalt
1960sDuPont offers some of its staff Teflon-laced cigarettes as a human experiment into the potential side-effects of the PFOA-produced nonstick material. Nine out of ten became severely ill.Crawford H. Greenewalt / Lammot Copeland
1965DuPont study shows liver damage and increased spleen size in rats exposed to C8. Lammot du Pont Copeland, President and CEO, 1962-1967. 
1970sDuPont finds that PFOA (C8) bioaccumulates in the blood stream.Charles B. McCoy, President and CEO and chairman of the board, 1967-
19783M concludes that PFOS and PFOA, a PFAS chemical used to make DuPont’s Teflon, “should be regarded as toxic.” 3M and DuPont confirm that C8 accumulates in workers’ blood and body tissues, causing elevated liver enzyme; Rhesus monkeys deteriorate and die after fed low dose of C8. Charles B. McCoy
1979In an internal memo by scientists in DuPont, in which they call people exposed to C8 “receptors” scientists found “significantly higher incidence of allergic, endocrine and metabolic disorders” as well as “excess risk of developing liver disease.” DuPont does not disclose results to the EPA.Charles B. McCoy
1980sDuPont dumps 7,100 tons of PFOA-laced sludge into unlined ‘‘digestion ponds’’: open, unlined pits on the Washington Works property, from which the chemical could seep straight into the ground. PFOA enters the local water table, which supplies drinking water to the communities of Parkersburg, Vienna, Little Hocking and Lubeck — more than 100,000 people.Edward G. Jefferson, CEO and Chairman, 1981-1986 / Richard E. Heckert, CEO from 1986-1989)
19813M notifies DuPont that their studies on rats and monkeys found that sustained exposure to C8 can cause facial deformities.  Dupont pregnancy study of seven pregnant women on the Teflon line includes Sue Bailey who worked on the Teflon line at DuPont’s facility and her son with PFOA-induced “one nostril and eye defect.” Female workers are reassigned from working with the chemicals when DuPont pathologist/epidemiologist Fayerweather confirms that the observed fetal eye defects are due to C8. These results demonstrate that C8 moves across the human placenta. DuPont’s pregnancy study is quietly abandoned and regulators not informed. Less than a year later DuPont created false data for EPA then moved women of childbearing age back into areas with C8 exposure.Edward G. Jefferson
1984DuPont secretly collects and tests tap water from employees, which show C8 at potentially dangerous levels in the public water supplies of both Ohio and West Virginia. Samples from the Ohio River show toxicity levels of PFOA eight times higher than normal. In May, DuPont executives at the Wilmington headquarters discuss risk to company image and conclude that available methods for cutting pollution are not “economically attractive.” In years following the meeting, DuPont escalates production, keeping the chemical’s dangers a secret.Edward G. Jefferson
1980s / 1990sOver the decades that follow, DuPont continues to pump hundreds of thousands of pounds of PFOA sludge and powder through the outfall pipes of the Parkersburg facility into the Ohio River and C8-laced vapors out its smokestacks.   DuPont purchases adjoining farmland to create landfill to dispose hazardous PFOA. Soon the creek (Dry Run) from the landfill turns black, foams up and smells foul. DuPont secretly conducts tests for PFOA in the nearby river which they find to be contaminated. They find levels of PFOA in the creek more than 80 times DuPont’s own internal safety limit but don’t report to the EPA. Their internal reports express concern for the health of nearby farmer’s livestock nearly a decade before they will deny culpability and blame Farmer Tennant in court (after he loses 280 cows that drank the creek water). Edward G. Jefferson to 1986 / Richard E. Heckert, CEO from 1986-1989
1989Many DuPont employees have been diagnosed with cancer and leukemia. 3M study finds elevated cancer rates among PFAS workers.Richard E. Heckert, CEO to 1989 / Edgar S. Woolard Jr., CEO from 1989-1995
1996C-8 (PFOA) detected in drinking water of Parkersburg. Tennant’s animals by the DuPont landfill start dying; Earl Tennant sends videos of foamy water and diseased cows to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection; state regulators document “numerous deficiencies in the landfill operation and erosion gullies that funnel waste into Dry Run creek; DuPont makes a deal with the department: the company pays a $250,000 fine and the department takes no further action against the landfill. (The official who negotiated the deal later became a DuPont consultant.)John A. Krol, CEO from 1995-1998
Study by 3M determines that ongoing exposure to C8 increases chances of prostate cancer by 3x. DuPont researchers link C8 to leukemia. Preliminary results from monkey study released in 1999 show that monkeys exposed to C8 lose weight and livers enlarge at the lowest dose; no safe level could be set. Wilbur Tennant’s cows die after drinking water contaminated with C8. DuPont ‘collaborates’ with EPA in which it appoints half the scientists. They don’t provide the other scientists with information on C8 or notify them that it is in the water. Rob Bilott files a small suit against DuPont to gain legal discovery.Charles O. Holliday Jr. (Chairman and CEO from 1998-2009)
2000In April, 3M troubled by its studies on C8 with monkeys notifies the EPA; a month later 3M phases out PFOS, a close relative to PFOA, used in 3M’s Scotchgard fabric protector; then quietly phases out PFOA. DuPont begins to produce its own PFOA at its facility in Fayetteville, NC. Local Water Authority in a letter reviewed by DuPont official Craig Skaggs informs residents of Parkersburg and Lubeck that C8 is in their drinking water but that “DuPont has advised the District that it is confident these levels are safe.” They know it isn’t.Charles O. Holliday Jr.
Bilott wins settlement for Wilbur Tennant. Bilott sends EPA 900 pages of internal DuPont documents. 3M stops making C8. DuPont influences the West Virginia DEP to release elevated drinking water guidelines at 150 parts per billion–150 times higher than DuPont’s own safety guideline, which had never been made public. EPA initiates a priority review of C8 (it later determines that 1 ppb of C8 is unsafe for human health). DuPont is caught shredding incriminating documents.Charles O. Holliday Jr.
Court-appointed independent Science Panel investigates “whether or not there is a probable link between C8 exposure and disease in the community.” Charles Holliday, DuPont CEO testifies that after overseeing “very extensive scientific analysis” he believed the chemical was “safe in the way we use and handle it.” EPA files lawsuit, alleging that DuPont concealed evidence that C8 was harmful to human health and had failed to disclose the contamination of public drinking water for more than two decades. Billot wins class-action suit, triggering science panel health investigation. DuPond agrees to phase out the use of C8 by 2015.Charles O. Holliday Jr.
2013Science panel concludes a probable link between PFOA and kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, pre-eclampsia and ulcerative colitis.Ellen Kullman, CEO from 2009 to 2015
2014International Agency for Research on Cancer designates PFOA as “possibly carcinogenic” in humansEllen Kullman
2015An Ohio resident awarded $1.6 million when a jury finds that her kidney cancer is caused by PFOA in drinking water released by DuPontEllen Kullman / Edward D. Breen (2015-2019)
2016A plaintiff with testicular cancer from PFOA contamination by DuPont in drinking water is awarded $10.5 million. Internal documents revealed during trial showed that DuPont had known of the link between PFOA and cancers since 1997.Edward D. Breen
2017DuPont and its spinoff company Chemours settle a lawsuit with 3,550 people living near the Parkersburg plant in both West Virginia and Ohio, many ailing from toxicity-related problems. The company agreed to pay $671 million.  Edward D. Breen
2019PFOA banned globally under the Stockholm Convention. It is one of only two PFAS (out of over 4,000 PFAS chemicals in current use) regulated globally. All other PFAS chemicals are not regulated to date.Edward D. Breen / Marc Doyle, CEO (2019)

Below are the faces of the DuPont men and women who sanctioned–encouraged–the willful harm of other life. Despite knowing the danger posed by exposure to PFOAs to people, these DuPont CEOs chose to: 1) continue to poison the environment and people, 2) cover up their actions from authorities, and 3) fight the courts and regulators from doing the right thing when they were caught. No one went to jail. No one was fired. They just paid $$$ and shamefully kept going. This is NOT good business. This is NOT being a good person. This is gross disrespect for all life and ultimately heinous criminal behaviour deserving more meaningful prosecution than a simple fine.

DuPont CEOs from 1950-2019 who sanctioned release of PFOA into the environment then covered it up: Crawford H. Greenewalt, Lammot Copeland, Charles B. McCoy, Edward G. Jefferson, Richard E. Heckert, Edgar S. Woolard, John A. Krol, Charles O. Holliday Jr., Ellen Kullman, Edward D. Breen

Post Script:

A man-made compound that didn’t exist a century ago, C8 is in the blood of 99.7 percent of Americans, according to a 2007 analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as in newborn human babies, breast milk, and umbilical cord blood. A growing group of scientists have been tracking the chemical’s spread through the environment, documenting its presence in a wide range of wildlife, including Loggerhead sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins, harbor seals, polar bears, caribou, walruses, bald eagles, lions, tigers, and arctic birds. Although DuPont no longer uses C8, fully removing the chemical from all the bodies of water and bloodstreams it pollutes is now impossible. And, because it is so chemically stable — in fact, as far as scientists can determine, it never breaks down — C8 is expected to remain on the planet well after humans are gone from it.

Sharon Lerner, “The Teflon Toxin: DuPont and the Chemistry of Deception“, August 2015, The Intercept

Dupont Washington Works plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia


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Yamashita N, Kannan K, Taniyasu S, Horii Y, Petrick G, Gamo T. 2005. “A global survey of perfluorinated acids in oceans.” Mar Pollut Bull 51: 658–668. 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2005.04.026

Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press(Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” was released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in June 2020.

4 thoughts on “Why DuPont Executives Are Heartlessly Killing People and Wildlife — And Getting Away With It…

  1. Lived in New Castle De US next to the Delaware River across from New Jersey (Dupont Chambers Works) back in 1960s we played along this beach with all this foam on it used to collect drift wood ect you could smell something bad like a chemical smell also these big carp all dead floating bobbin up and down the river was dead it was where they had a train chemical car loading dock that would take over by I guess ferry over to Dupont and visa versa I wonder what forever chems been exposed Brother has a tumor behind eye we played alot in around that place was alot of swamps too iced skated all winter problem is it’s dark waters doesn’t really mention what happened here in De (Edgemore) or south JerseyChamberworks Deep water) cancer rate is high in De I think Dupont was privileged in De had good lawyers and our government was kidda indebted to all the black powder chems Dynamite they produced (Wars) matter of fact in 1969 Dupont Dynamite blew at Dupont Chambers Works Deep water was in school all the windows blew out the nuns told us to hit the deck and we did this was during Vietnam War nuns we’re praying that day such a shame what happened wish there was info what was being dumped in river back when I was playing all in it hush hush hush that’s how the state of Delaware is thank God for Gov Russell Peterson Coastal zone Champ


    • Oh my gosh, Jeff… I’m so sorry for what happened to your brother … What Dupont did back then AND STILL gets away with now, is criminal. They are a large part, I think, of why the cancer rate is so high there. Thanks for sharing this … God be with you … Nina


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