2,700 charges pressed against Chemours executives over decades of PFAS pollution
Criminal lawyer Benedicte Ficq will file at least 2,700 charges against the executives of the chemical company Chemours on Monday. The charges accuse the executives of the factory since 1962 of “intentionally and unlawfully” polluting the soil, air, and surface water of carcinogenic PFAS, specifically PFOA and GenX.
Ficq will personally take the tack of reports to the Public Prosecution Service (OM) in Amsterdam on Monday morning. “It is a whole pile. I'm going to hand them over personally, also to make visible how large the problem is,” she said to RTL Nieuws.
The charges are pressed on behalf of people living around the Dordrecht factory. Ficq and the locals hope the OM will conduct a criminal investigation into Chemours, formerly DuPont, and prosecute the executives. Among other things, Ficq wants to investigate whether Chemorus received its permits based on misleading information.
The four municipalities around Chemours - Dordrecht, Sliedrecht, Papendrecht, and Molenlanden - already held Chemours liable for the damage to the environment caused by its PFAS pollution, which the company was aware of for decades, according to research by Zembla. The court will rule on the case on September 27. Zembla reported that Chemours offered millions of euros to settle the current and future damage claims resulting from the pollution. The municipalities rejected the offer.
Climate lawyer Tim Bleeker thinks that Ficq’s lawsuit has a good chance if she proves two things. Firstly, there is actual damage, like health damage, loss of enjoyment of life, or immaterial damage, like mental health complaints. And she must prove that Chemours caused that damage unlawfully. “The biggest question is whether there is evidence that the damage has been caused unlawfully,” Bleeker told RTL. “For example, have they exceeded their permit? And what was taken into account when granting that permit?”
In 2021, Ficq also held Tata Steel liable for environmental damage in a similar case. The OM indeed proceeded with prosecution based on those reports. Earlier this year, Ficq pressed charges against Tata Steel director Hans van den Berg personally. She called it the start of her campaign against the people responsible for their companies’ harmful policies.