The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday announced that DuPont has agreed to pay a penalty of $3.3 million to resolve 57 violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
EPA’s settlement resolves allegations that DuPont failed to immediately notify EPA of research indicating substantial risk found during testing chemicals for possible use as surface protection, masonry protection, water repellants, sealants and paints. TSCA requires companies to inform EPA when they have research demonstrating that a chemical could pose a substantial risk to human health and the environment.
According to EPA, it learned in the course of another enforcement action against DuPont that the company had conducted 176 toxicity studies on rats that were never submitted to the agency.
At the time, DuPont said it had been operating under the assumption that not all the inhalation studies needed to be reported under the TSCA.
In 2006, DuPont produced a total of 176 studies to the EPA demonstrating various degrees of inhalation toxicity in rats. EPA determined that 57 of these test results met the criteria for reporting laid out by the TSCA.
But, the latest fines are not the first time DuPont has been cited by the EPA.
In 2005, the company settled another claim by the EPA that it had hidden the toxic effects of a dangerous chemical. That settlement, totaling $10.25 million, was at the time the largest administrative penalty ever secured by the EPA. It concerned perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) products, which are used in the manufacture of non-stick cooking surfaces and waterproof membranes for clothing. The company had failed to report information on PFOA risks as far back as 1981, the agency said.
In fact, it was during the PFOA enforcement action that EPA regulators learned that DuPont was following the wrong criteria for reporting chemical toxicity under TSCA.
Rick Abraham, an environmental consultant who helped the United Steelworkers union uncover high levels of PFOA in water supplies in a half dozen states where DuPont had plants, believes that the company is getting the wrong message from regulators: “Get caught and it will cost you something — but not enough to discourage the repeating of violations,” he told PaperTrail.
“Rewarding violators like DuPont,” he said, will only encourage future violations.”
DuPont has not commented on the settlement.