Weirton Area Water Board and the City of Weirton, West Virginia, (together Weirton) sued Corteva, Inc., Dupont de Nemours, Inc., AGC Chemicals Americas, Inc., Archroma U.S., Inc. Dynax Corporation, Solvay Specialty Polymers, USA, LLC, and Solvay USA, Inc. last Friday. The civil suit for damages alleges that the defendants’ design, manufacture, and sale of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) products has caused widespread drinking water contamination costing the plaintiffs to incur testing, treatment, and infrastructural costs, in addition to loss of consumer confidence.
A similar suit was filed by the Pennsylvania-American Water Company last month, and in January, DuPont de Nemours, Corteva, and The Chemours Company announced a $4 billion PFAS settlement and the resolution of separate Ohio multidistrict litigation for $83 million.
According to the instant District of Delaware complaint, the chemical manufacturers reportedly used PFAS to create commercial and household products that resist heat, stains, oil, and water beginning in the 1960s. Allegedly, the defendants’ PFAS-containing aqueous film-forming foam, a firefighting agent, was purchased and used by various industrial facilities in and around Weirton, West Virginia.
Weirton explains that it owns and operates a public water system that serves the city and surrounding areas. It claims that 2018 and 2019 sampling revealed PFAS contamination in its water supply at concerning levels in light of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent revision of PFAS lifetime health advisory levels and decision to regulate the chemicals under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
According to the complaint, the manufacturer defendants knew, or should have known, that PFAS creates a substantial risk of harm to public water supplies. Specifically, they should have anticipated that through the transportation, storage, use and disposal of products containing PFAS, that they would enter the surface and groundwater in West Virginia, including the Ohio River and the watershed from which Weirton obtains its drinking water supplies, the plaintiffs allege.
The complaint seeks damages for injury to Weirton’s natural resources, including the economic impact suffered by the plaintiffs and Weirton area residents, the present and future costs of treating PFAS contamination, and compensatory and punitive damages, among other requests.
Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC represents Weirton Area Water Board and the City of Weirton.