DuPont, Chemours and Corteva Agree PFAS Fund

28.01.2021 - DuPont, along with Chemours, its former fluourochemicals and plastics business, and Corteva, the combined agrochemicals businesses of DuPont and Dow, have buried the hatchet and announced a cost-sharing agreement worth $4 billion to settle lawsuits over liability for discharges into US waterways of perfluorinated compounds such as PFAS and PFOA.

The three-way settlement creates an immediate cost-sharing arrangement, including an escrow account worth more than $1 billion to cover potential future legacy liabilities predating the Chemours spinoff.

In a statement, DuPont said this binding memorandum of understanding replaces the February 2017 PFOA settlement and subsequent amendment to the Chemours Separation Agreement. In a separate pact, DuPont, Corteva and Chemours have agreed to resolve the ongoing matters in the multi-district PFOA litigation in the US state of Ohio.

For about a year, DuPont and Chemours were embroiled in a legal dispute over who had to pay how much to settle which contamination lawsuit, with each having a different interpretation of the terms of their 2015 separation agreement.

Chemours sued DuPont in 2019, claiming that the former parent’s liability estimates were “spectacularly wrong.” The case was dismissed in 2020 and the parties ordered to settle their differences in arbitration, but not before bad blood was further stirred up by former DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman siding with Chemours that the burden was excessive.

Under the deal signed late last week –  just before the dispute would have had to go to arbitration – expenses will be split 50:50, with DuPont and Corteva responsible for half and Chemours responsible for the other half. The companies have agreed to share the costs of certain qualified expenses over a period no longer than 20 years or an amount over $4 billion.

DuPont stressed that Chemours’ obligations to indemnify it under the separation agreement remain unchanged. The terms of this were the lever for Chemours’ first lawsuit against DuPont, in which it accused its former parent of spinning it off to absolve itself of responsibility.

Class action suits involving the former DuPont group prior to the Dow merger are still pending in US courts.  Many of the plaintiffs blame PFAS and PFOA for causing their cancer. Municipalities and other jurisdiction claim the chemicals have poisoned their water supply.

To settle the multidistrict PFOA litigation in Ohio to the tune of $83 million, DuPont and Corteva each will contribute $27 million and Chemours will contribute $29 million to resolve some 95 pending cases as well as unfiled lawsuits.

The US has no federally enforceable limits on any of the chemical compounds in drinking water, groundwater or soil, or any requirements to clean up contamination. Only five states have placed limits on permissible levels of a few chemicals, and according to campaigner The Environmental Working Group (EWG), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA has the ability to test for only 29 PFAS in drinking water.

EWG said it has documented “the decades-long deception of chemical companies like DuPont burying the truth that PFAS build up in our blood and present risks to human health.” By the 1960s, it said, animal studies conducted by DuPont’s own scientists revealed that PFAS could pose health risks.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist