DuPont, Chemours and Corteva Reach $4 Billion Settlement on ‘Forever Chemicals’ Lawsuits

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Friday, January 22, 2021

WASHINGTON – Today DuPont, Chemours and Corteva announced a cost-sharing agreement worth $4 billion to settle lawsuits involving the historic use of the highly toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

DuPont was for decades a leading U.S. manufacturer of PFAS chemicals, which it used to make Teflon and other nonstick products. 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.

The Environmental Working Group has documented the decades-long deception of chemical companies like DuPont burying the truth that PFAS build up in our blood and present risks to human health. EWG created a timeline that shows by the 1960s, animal studies conducted by DuPont revealed that PFAS chemicals could pose health risks.

“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,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “It’s long past time that the polluters pay for their malicious drive toward profits over public health.”

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. PFAS discharged over the past 50 years by companies like DuPont will stay in the environment until actively remediated. PFAS contaminate over 2,300 sites in the U.S.

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.

The feature film “Dark Waters” documents the real-life story of Bilott’s 20-year fight against DuPont’s contamination of the drinking water around Parkersburg, W.Va., with a PFAS chemical used to make Teflon. Bilott also published “Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle Against Dupont,” a riveting first-person account of how he revealed DuPont’s dumping of PFOA and the decades-long coverup of the health hazards of PFAS.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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