Federal officials and the DuPont Co. have reached a settlement on charges that the chemical giant concealed possible harmful health effects associated with perfluorooctanoic acid, a chemical compound used to produce Teflon.
Neither DuPont nor the Environmental Protection Agency would disclose the terms of the deal, which they now must file with an administrative law judge by Jan. 13. The agency could have fined the company as much as $313 million for not disclosing what it knew about negative health effects stemming from the processing agent, known as PFOA.
Lawyers on each side told Judge Barbara A. Gunning last week that they had agreed to settle the case but needed more time to assemble paperwork.
EPA spokeswoman Eryn Witcher said the agency "is still reviewing the terms of the agreement, and once the agency completes its review and files it with the Environmental Appeals Board, the agreement will be announced."
DuPont spokesman R. Clifton Webb, who has consistently said the company complied with federal disclosure laws, said, "We are not going to comment on the settlement, pending review by EPA's Environmental Appeals Board." The board is an internal review panel.
Environmental groups have called on federal officials to impose a hefty penalty on DuPont for not telling the government that PFOA can pass from a mother's blood to her fetus. The chemical has been linked to cancer and possible birth defects in animal studies.
"EPA should impose the maximum fine possible; $313 million is a small price to pay for polluting the blood of nearly every American with its indestructible cancer-causing Teflon chemical," said Richard Wiles, senior vice president for the Environmental Working Group, an activist group that has investigated the Teflon issue. "Anything less than the maximum fine will not deter DuPont and the chemical industry from future coverups."