For Immediate Release: February 18, 2007
ontacts: Tracy Carluccio, DRN, 215-692-2329 James T. Rowe, USW Local 943, 609-420-1480 Ron Espinoza,USW Int 615-618-2771 Jane Nogaki, NJEF 856-912-6790
Roy Jones, SJEJA 856-965-9038
DUPONT ACCOUNTABILITY COALITION
New Jersey. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has set the nation’s lowest drinking water guidance level for the controversial chemical PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). New Jersey identified the safe guidance level of only .04 parts per billion after finding PFOA contamination in drinking water supplies across the state.
PFOA has been labeled by EPA’s Science Advisory Board as a likely human carcinogen and is now manufactured in the United States only by Dupont for use in a wide variety of products such as Teflon cookware, and food wrapper linings.
New Jersey’s guidance level is the toughest in the nation and reflects extensive independent scientific analysis on the part of the state. The guidance level of .04 parts per billion (ppb) is the first step to establishing a drinking water standard and puts water companies and industrial polluters on notice that their contamination will need to be addressed.
The Dupont Accountability Coalition, made up of environmental and labor organizations from PFOA polluted communities around the country, views New Jersey’s action as major progress toward ending Dupont’s reckless manufacture and use of PFOA.
The Coalition is advocating for zero tolerance of any PFOA chemicals in drinking water, the removal of the sources of contamination from water and the environment, clean up of all PFOA chemicals and a ban on manufacture and use. There are people who work in Dupont plants and who live in nearby communities that already have levels of PFOA in their blood that are many times higher than New Jersey’s safe guidance level for the water they drink, said Jim Rowe, President of United Steel Workers Local 943. This is not going to be tolerated, he said.
Results in the New Jersey study show that community water supplies in some areas already exceed safe guidance levels. This should sound the alarm for Dupont: PFOA must be cleaned up and its use abandoned, said Roy Jones, director of the South Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance. “Dupont should provide safe drinking water to affected communities immediately,” Jones added.
“PFOA is a chemical screaming for attention. New Jersey’s report and action is critical to a goal of regulation of this now-uncontrolled pollutant. Crucial next steps require a ban and complete removal of the pollutant from the environment. We know PFOA chemicals are hazardous to public health and we know next to nothing about its impact on fish and wildlife – continued use cannot be tolerated”, said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.
“The DEP guidance level of .04 ppb is the strictest level set by any state or government agency, but to fully protect human health from this carcinogen which builds up in the body over time, the goal must be zero PFOA and PFO’s in our drinking water,; said Jane Nogaki, program coordinator for NJ Environmental Federation. “Until EPA acts to protect the public,every state should set its own PFOA standard that is as tough or tougher than New Jersey’s,” she said.
“For the first time a standard has stuck to Dupont,” stated Jeff Tittel Director of NJ Sierra Club. “We will work to ensure that the State will adopt a standard that will be protective of our families.” “In North Carolina, where C-8 (PFOA) is manufactured, state water quality officials approved an interim standard that is FIFTY TIMES weaker than the New Jersey standard, which is an outrage,” said Hope Taylor-Guevara, Clean Water for North Carolina.
PFOA and its related family of chemicals has come under fire recently: EPA has labeled it a likely carcinogen and called for a voluntary phase out of the chemicals by 2015; class action law suits brought against Dupont by residents in West Virginia, Ohio and New Jersey for drinking water contamination and adverse public health impacts with findings against Dupont for the plaintiffs at the WVA Washington Works; ongoing risk assessments and blood studies ordered by the court and EPA; a wave of public opposition to the manufacture, processing, and discharge of PFOA chemicals across much of the United States.
New Jersey’s attention was drawn to PFOA by recent events. Results of tap water samples by Delaware Riverkeeper Network and USW over a year ago showed PFOA in drinking water in the communities surrounding Dupont’s Chambers Works plant in Salem County. NJDEP modified the discharge permits for Dupont in 2005 and 2006 to require monitoring for PFOA. A sampling program (23 systems) was instituted by DEP to assess the occurrence of PFOA in various locations in the state. The study is the first step towards regulating the chemical and establishing a safe drinking water level that must be met by water suppliers.
More comments from Coalition members
“The fact that PFOA was detectedin 78 percent of the drinking water systems tested is problematic,” said Betsy McDonald of NY/NJ Baykeeper. “It is a crucial time for NJDEP to become involved. Strict water quality standards must be set for this carcinogen.”
“PFOA is a prime example of outdated laws which serves to protect the over 75,000 chemicals now in production, many of which are now being found combined in the blood of newborn infants. Chronic illness now affects 15% to 18% of children, and the capricious nature in which industry produces billions of pounds of toxins makes them the prime suspect,” said Brenda Songy, Gulf Coast Chair of the Mississippi Sierra Club.
NJDEP reports are available at http://www.nj.gov/dep/watersupply/pfoa.htm
James T. Rowe 609-420-1480 (cell) President, United Steelworkers of America, Local-4-943 Ron Espinoza, USW Int’l 615-618-2771 Tracy Carluccio 215-369-1188 or 215-692-2329 (cell)
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Jane Nogaki 856-912-6790 (cell) Program Coordinator, NJ Environmental Federation Roy Jones 856-965-9038
Director, South Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance
Betsy McDonald 619-549-5070 (cell), Andy Wilner
NY/NJ Baykeeper Edison Wetlands Association, Edison, NJ
Rick Engler, Denise Patel
New Jersey Work Environment Council
Director, NJ Sierra Club
Gulf Coast Chair of the Mississippi Sierra Club
Hope Taylor-Guevara 919-401-9600
Executive Director, Clean Water for North Carolina