Dordrecht chemical company aware of its carcinogenic PFAS pollution 30 years ago: report
Teflon producer DuPont, now Chemours, has known for 30 years that they are seriously polluting the groundwater in Dordrecht with large amounts of toxic and carcinogenic PFAS, Zembla reports based on confidential documents from the chemical group. The documents showed DuPont had serious concerns about contaminating the drinking water with PFAS in the early 1990s. PFAS pollution is still a problem in Doredrecht.
In 1993, DuPont measured PFAS concentration in the groundwater in Dordrecht and found them to be 75 times higher than their own standard. The DuPont headquarters in the United States considered the contamination of the environment around the Dordrecht factory serious enough to give it “the highest priority,” according to Zembla. It appointed a PFAS coordinator in Dordrecht, which noted that broken and ruptured pipes had leaked “large quantities” of PFAS into the environment, creating “a landfill” under the factory.
In 1994, the coordinator warned in internal documents that the PFAS pollution was “very difficult to control” and that the spread of these carcinogenic substances would have “serious liability consequences.” He was specifically writing bout large amounts of PFOA, a PFAS variant that affects the immune system and can cause numerous diseases, including several types of cancer.
DuPont only stopped using PFOA after the government strictly regulated the highly toxic substance in 2012. But because the substance hardly breaks down in the environment, the area around the Dordrecht factory is still heavily contaminated with PFOA. High concentrations of the substance can be found in factory workers’ and locals’ blood and in the breast milk of women living in Dordrecht.
Since 2017, the public health institute RIVM has warned locals living within a radius of one kilometer from the factory not to eat fruit or vegetables from their gardens.
According to Zembla, the DuPont documents show that the company’s main focus was its liability when it came to contaminating Dordrecht with carcinogenic PFAS. As early as 1984, DuPont worried that if it “did nothing,” it would be held “increasingly accountable,” according to notes from a May 1984 meeting at the DuPont headquarters in Wilmington. Those in the meeting agreed that DuPont must “eliminate all PFOA emissions” but in a way that “does not cause economic harm” to the company.
“This document shows that DuPont is only concerned with not being held liable. And they focused their entire strategy on that. There is not a single word in the document about it being bad for the employees, the surrounding environment,” integrity professor Rob van Eijbergen told Zembla.