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EPA seeks citizen input on C8

By Callie Lyons, clyons@mariettatimes.com

Local residents or anyone wanting to submit written comments for a hearing on C8 planned in Washington, D.C., in June have until May 16 to submit their information.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has called a public meeting to gather information about the controversial chemical used in DuPont's manufacturing of Teflon and other products. The company calls it C8; scientists call it by its official designation, PFOA. The outcome of the June 6 hearing could be further regulation of the chemical.

The federal EPA recently concluded it needed more information to evaluate the human hazards of C8, if there are any. To speed up the mandated methods of discovering more about the chemical, the EPA has scheduled the public hearing.

It's unclear who, if anyone, the local DuPont plant will send to the hearing, or whether representatives of local water systems will attend. The spokesperson for DuPont was out of the office Monday. Bob Griffin, general manager for Little Hocking Water Association, could not be reached for comment Monday. Little Hocking Water Association is one of a handful of local water associations with traces of C8 found in their wells.

Traces of C8 have been detected in the bloodstream of 90 percent of the American population, according to a preliminary risk assessment performed by the EPA. But the Mid-Ohio Valley is the only place where people are directly exposed to C8 via the water they drink and air they breathe, because of emissions from the DuPont Washington Works plant, said attorney Robert Bilott during a hearing Friday in Wood County Circuit Court. Bilott represents the plaintiffs in a class action suit against DuPont.

DuPont officials maintain the chemical does not pose a risk to humans. The EPA has not yet determined whether the chemical, which provokes reproductive and developmental problems and cancer in laboratory animals, poses a risk to humans.

The use of C8 is also an issue with economic implications.

Attorney Laurence Jansen of Steptoe & Johnson, representing DuPont at Friday's hearing, said the Washington Works plant employs 3,200 people, and the company's ability to maintain those jobs would be compromised if the use of C8 were to be prohibited.

Also, an Italian food processing/packaging plant backed out of a deal to bring a 600-job, $36 million development project to Parkersburg earlier this year after learning about C8 contamination reported in local water supplies.

Scientists and researchers from the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based research coalition, have asked the EPA to stop use of PFOA in manufacturing.

Richard Wiles, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, said it is essential for local people who will be affected by the EPA decisions to participate.

"Let the EPA know you are aware of the issues," Wiles said. "The EPA knows there is a lot of noise there. The communities that have the greatest effect work as an organized group."

Comment tips

Identify all comments by docket ID OPPT-2003-0012.

The deadline for comments to be received is May 16.

To submit comments by e-mail, send to www.epa.gov/edocket.

To submit comments by standard mail, send to EPA Docket Center (7407), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 20460-0001.


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