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EPA hearing on C8 draws interest

By Callie Lyons, clyons@mariettatimes.com

The level of interest expressed by the public and interested parties in next week's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency public hearing on the manufacturing chemical known as C8 has caused the hearing to be extended by an hour.

The hearing, which was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. June 6, will begin an hour earlier, at noon, to accommodate the large amount of information that will be presented on the chemical known to scientists as PFOA, said Mary Dominiak, EPA specialist, in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The hearing is the next step in the agency's process of evaluating the risks of C8 and determining the future handling of the chemical. The EPA has been investigating the toxicity of the chemical, which has been found to cause reproductive and developmental problems in laboratory animals. But, the only conclusion drawn so far is that considerable scientific uncertainty remains regarding potential risks.

The objective of the meeting is to develop enforceable consent agreements, which could lead to more specific guidelines regarding the future management and testing of the manufacturing chemical.

The hearing is significant to many Washington County residents, since C8 has been detected in the water supplies of many who live just across the Ohio River from the Washington, W.Va., DuPont plant which emits the chemical into the air and water in the process of manufacturing Teflon.

Ben Addy, of Lowell, will be following the EPA hearing closely. Not only is he concerned with the potential effects of exposure to the manufacturing chemical in the air and water, but he claims an incident of polymer fume fever kept him in the hospital for 10 days in 1977.

"Teflon kills birds, and it makes old men sick, too," said Addy, who said he became extremely ill after welding Teflon skids while working on the Willow Island power plant more than 25 years ago. "There was no smell or anything but that evening I got the worst cold I've ever had in my life. I was out of my head for days in the hospital with a temperature that reached 105."

Addy worries about long-term health effects and is anxious to find out what the agency determines about potential hazards to humans from C8.

Although the public comment period has expired, input is still welcome and will still be accepted by the agency. The docket of information that has been presented to the EPA so far is available on the Internet at www.epa.gov/edocket. The collection of documents includes scientific studies, agency documentation and correspondence from several local people.

Bob Griffin, director of the Little Hocking Water Association, addressed the EPA regarding the rural nonprofit organization that provides water to 12,000 people in western Washington County and parts of Athens County. In 2002, C8 was detected in all four of the water association's water supply production wells in amounts ranging from 0.86 parts per billion to 7.69 parts per billion. In his letter Griffin states the amount of PFOA being delivered through the water distribution system to his customers is about 2 parts per billion presently.

"We are concerned about the potentially acute and chronic exposure of our customers to C8," Griffin said. "They probably have the highest exposure to this chemical of any people in this country. They are exposed three ways: through everyday products, their drinking water, and the very air they breathe."

Little Hocking Water Association is one of several local groups on the list of interested parties that includes manufacturing corporations, industry groups, environmentalists, researchers, and other Teflon-related concerns such as the Fire Fighting Foam Coalition. Along with DuPont, the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, Parkersburg-Wood County Area Development Corp., Tuppers Plains-Chester Water District, United Bank of West Virginia, and the West Virginia Class Action Plaintiffs are listed as interested parties to the negotiations.

Submit your

comments about C8

Contact reporter Callie Lyons with your comments and concerns about the chemical known as C8 via e-mail at clyons@mariettatimes.com, or by phone 376-5462 before Tuesday. Your comments will be submitted to the EPA at the June 6 public hearing.

 

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