The U.S. EPA has solicited comments concerning C-8 and other perfluorchemicals.  The U.S. EPA is conducting a public meeting on June 6th in Washington D.C.   The following is a letter that we submitted to them. 
 
 
May 14, 2003
 
EPA Docket Center (7407)

Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics

Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC   20460-0001
Subject:   Docket OPPT-2003-0012
To Whom It May Concern:

 

GENERAL

I am writing on behalf of the Little Hocking Water Association, Inc., located in Washington County, Ohio.  The Little Hocking Water Association (LHWA) is a rural non-profit corporation that currently provides water service to about 12,000 people in western Washington County and portions of eastern Athens County.  The Association was formed in 1968 and has been built primarily through almost $7,000,000 in loans and grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development.
We have four groundwater production wells in bottomland along the Ohio River.  Our well field is located immediately adjacent to the Ohio River and directly across from Dupont’s Washington Works plant, located in Wood County, West Virginia.  The LHWA well field is located in the path of the prevailing winds blowing across the river from the DuPont Washington Works plant. (Please refer to attached DuPont and Little Hocking Well Field Aerial map)
In January 2002, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection informed us that PFOA was detected in all four of our water supply production wells.   PFOA is also known as C-8, APFO and ammonium perfluorooctanoate.  The amount of PFOA detected ranged from 0.86 parts per billion (ppb) to 7.69 parts per billion (ppb).  The amount of PFOA that is currently being delivered through the water distribution system to LHWA customers is about 2.0 ppb.
Since PFOA is not a regulated chemical, it is not part of the suite of chemicals tested by purveyors of public water.  Indeed, when we learned of the presence of this chemical in our water, we searched for a laboratory capable of analyzing for PFOA.  We intended to collect independent samples in order to verify the presence and levels of PFOA.  The only laboratory we found that was capable of analyzing for this chemical was the laboratory under contract to DuPont.  However, they informed us that they could not analyze our samples without DuPont’s approval.  We also learned later that the


U.S. EPA Comments
May 14, 2003

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methodology for sampling water and soil is apparently continually developing and not standard.  USEPA has recently begun to analyze water samples in their Denver laboratory, but it is not clear that the same method is being used by USEPA and the DuPont-sanctioned laboratory.  Also, there are questions about just what is being detected using these laboratory methods.  One focus of the USEPA should be a standardized laboratory method that produces reliable results and clearly defines the analyzed compound.

ESCALATING ‘SAFE LEVELS’

At the time that we learned that PFOA was in our wells, there was no primary or secondary drinking water standard for the compound because it was not regulated.  Indeed, the only available guideline was a DuPont ‘in-house’ community exposure guideline (CEG) of 1 part per billion (ppb).   As indicated above, one of our water production wells has more than seven times that level of PFOA.  Nevertheless, DuPont told us that there are no adverse health affects at the levels in our productions wells, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA), our regulatory agency, did not require us to take any action.
In February, 2002, we learned that the sample results from one of our test wells (TW#4) indicated a PFOA level of 37.1 ppb!  (This well is not a production well from which the LHWA obtained water to supply to its customers.  However, this well is completed in the same aquifer and only approximately 300 feet away from the closest production well.)
In March, 2002, Regions III and V of the U.S. EPA entered into a consent order with DuPont.  In this order, DuPont agreed to supply an alternate drinking water supply for water systems that had PFOA levels above 14 ppb in their drinking water.  Hence the ‘safe level’ went from 1 ppb to 14 ppb.
 
In May, 2002, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) issued a news release announcing that the C-8 Assessment of Toxicity (CAT) Team

had determined that water with levels of PFOA less than 150 ppb would not cause harm to humans.  (In the absence of regulatory guidelines, the CAT Team was formed under a consent order between DuPont and the WVDEP.  It is a group of toxicologists that reviewed “pertinent” laboratory studies on PFOA to determine at what level PFOA was ‘safe’ for humans.)  The CAT Team refers to the 150 ppb as a ‘screening level’. Hence the ‘safe level’ went from 14 ppb to 150 ppb.
 
 
 
Little Hocking Water Association, Inc.
U.S. EPA Comments
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VALIDITY OF CAT TEAM FINDINGS QUESTIONED

The ‘screening level’ of 150 ppb established by the CAT Team generated much criticism and controversy.  In November, 2002, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit environmental group located in Washington D.C., sent a letter to the WVDEP which was highly critical of the hazard assessment done by the CAT Team.  (EWG Letter of November 12, 2002 to WVDEP, attached)
 
Among other things, the CAT Team concluded that PFOA was not a carcinogen.  This is contrary to U.S. EPA documents, one of which states that a draft assessment “…indicated potential systemic toxicity and carcinogenicity.”  (Charles M. Auer, Memorandum of September 27, 2002, attached).  DuPont’s own scientists indicated in a 1997 summary of test results, that they did not understand how C-8 caused cancer in animals.  DuPont could not completely rule out the relevance to humans. (Columbus Dispatch, April 5, 2003, attached)  The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has classified C-8 in Group A3.  The Group A3 classification means that C-8 is a confirmed animal carcinogen with unknown relevance to humans.
 
The CAT Team ‘screening level’ also fails to allow for air exposure to PFOA, while we know without a doubt that air is a route of exposure.  (The inclusion of air exposure in the formula used by the CAT Team to calculate the ‘screening level’ makes a drastic difference in the number generated.)   Soil sample results from an investigation conducted by DuPont in the Little Hocking well field show a high concentration of C-8 near the soil surface (170 ug/kg).  Also, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has sent a letter to DuPont expressing their concern about PFOA air emissions from the DuPont Washington Works plant.     (OEPA letter of January 7, 2003 to DuPont Washington Works Manager, attached)  
Further doubt was cast on the CAT team proceedings when it became known that Dr. Dee Ann Staats, the WVDEP Science Advisor who chaired the CAT Team, destroyed notes relative to the CAT Team deliberations. (Marietta Times, July 3, 2002, attached)
In a news release the WVDEP welcomed the EWG critique of the CAT Team report and indicated that they would address the concerns of EWG.  However, as of this date, the WVDEP has not responded to their initial letter.  Nor have they responded to a follow-up letter sent in March of this year to Governor Bob Wise of West Virginia. (EWG letters of November 12, 2002, and March 12, 2003, attached)
The EWG contends that the ‘screening levels’ should be more in the range of 1.5 to 15 ppb, which is in far contrast to the 150 ppb advocated by the CAT Team, and more in keeping with DuPont’s community exposure guideline of 1.0 ppb.
Little Hocking Water Association, Inc.
U.S. EPA Comments
May 14, 2003

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LITTLE HOCKING WATER HISTORY WITH DUPONT AND PFOA (C-8)

DuPont has been polluting the environment with PFOA for over 50 years by discharges to air, water, landfills and into injection wells.  They have repeatedly stated that in those 50 years that there are no known adverse health effects from PFOA.  However, the following facts have been documented:
·        1981 – DuPont found C-8 in the blood of female plant workers in DuPont’s Washington Works Plant in Wood County.  They also temporarily reassigned 50 women.  Two of seven children born to female plant workers between 1979 and 1981 had birth defects.  (EWG – DuPont Hid Teflon Pollution for Decades, December 13, 2002, attached)
·        1984 – DuPont internal documents show that the company found PFOA in the tap water of the Little Hocking Water Association, but did not notify the Association that PFOA had been detected in their water supply.   After learning of the PFOA contamination of the Lubeck Public Service District water supply in 2001, the LHWA requested that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection test their four water supply wells.  As a result of that testing, the LHWA learned in January 2002 that PFOA was in all four of their production wells – almost 18 years after DuPont knew that C-8 was present in the LHWA water supply.  (EWG – DuPont Hid Teflon Pollution for Decades, December 13, 2002, attached)
·        2003 – In October 2001, DuPont scientists developed a mathematical model designed to estimate the levels of C-8 in human blood based on how much exposure people had to C-8 through both air and water.  Based on this model, the blood levels of people living in Ohio, who are exposed to C-8 through both water and air, could be more than twice the average level that DuPont has reported in their employees who work with the chemical.  Nevertheless, Robert Rickard, director of DuPont’s research laboratory has said, “We don’t believe there is a medical reason to test the blood of people in the community.” (Columbus Dispatch, March 2, 2003, attached)  
·        2003 -  A West Virginia judge ruled that C-8 was “toxic and hazardous to humans.”  He also ruled that DuPont has to pay for blood tests to measure C-8 exposure for people, who are included in the class action lawsuit.  The lawsuit was filed in August 2001 on behalf of as many as 50,000 people who live in Ohio and West Virginia and were exposed to C-8 through contaminated water supplies.

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In addition, it was reported that DuPont acknowledged that Gerald R. Kennedy, DuPont’s lead toxicologist on C-8 issues, had destroyed “written and electronic documents” about the chemical. (Columbus Dispatch, May 8, 2003, attached)
It should be noted here that Mr. Kennedy was also a member of the West Virginia CAT Team, which established the ‘screening level’ for C-8 under the West Virginia Consent Order.
 
3M Corporation was the supplier of C-8 to DuPont.  In May 2000, 3M announced that they would begin phasing out C-8 and stopped selling it in 2002.  The reason that 3M cited for discontinuing the sale of C-8 was for “principles of responsible environmental management”.   Later in February 28, 2002, 3M submitted a Substantial Risk Notice to the U.S. EPA for ammonium perfluorooctanoate (C-8) in accordance with section 8(E) of the Toxic Control Substances Act. (attached)
As a result of losing their supplier, DuPont started manufacturing C-8 in October 2002, at a plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  DuPont is committed to limiting total emissions of C-8 from the Fayetteville plant to 200 pounds per year.   This is in stark contrast to the 20,000 pounds of total C-8 emissions from the Washington Works plant in 2002.  (The Delaware News Journal, April 13, 2003, attached)
 
Note:   The 20,000 pounds of C-8 emissions from DuPont’s Washington Works

            plant is 75 percent less than in 1999.   Part of this reduction is accounted for  

      by the fact that DuPont ships C-8 contaminated wastewater by rail from the

      Washington Works plant to its Chambers Works plant in Deepwater, New

      Jersey for disposal into the Delaware River. (The Delaware News Journal,

      April 13, 2003, attached)
 
Because of a high level of C-8 (37.1 ppb) detected in one of our test wells (TW#4), a work plan was developed and approved jointly by the LHWA, OEPA, and Dupont to do an investigation around TW#4.  The intent of the investigation was to collect soil and water samples from various test borings to be located around TW#4.   DuPont provided the equipment and personnel to do the work and the LHWA hired an engineering consultant to oversee the work.
 
 
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·        The work began in August 2002.  It became quickly apparent that DuPont 

      arrived on-site ill prepared to do the tasks required by the Work Plan.  Their 

      lack of preparedness caused delays in the execution of the Work Plan.   Our

      consultant behaved professionally at all times and assisted DuPont’s field

      representative in defining the courses of action needed to accomplish the  

     Work Plan tasks. 
·        Because of the delays created by DuPont’s lack of preparedness to implement the Work Plan, the sampling was taking longer to accomplish than expected.  At one point DuPont decided to unilaterally make changes in the methodology of collecting the samples.  Neither we, nor the OEPA, agreed to the proposed changes.  DuPont was determined to make the changes anyway.  Consequently, I asked the DuPont representative on-site to leave the property, if they were not going to adhere to the sample methodology in the pre-approved Work Plan.   They ultimately decided to adhere to the original methodology and resumed work.   However, the drilling and sampling crews left the site a couple of days later without completing all of the sampling called for in the Work Plan.  They indicated that they would return once sampling and drilling difficulties were resolved.  The sampling work still remains incomplete nine months later.
·        Test results from the incomplete investigation are presented in Tables 1 through 5 (attached), along with available information for other sampling events in our well field.  The attached well location map shows the sampling locations.  The results show that the highest levels of PFOA in the water supply (production) wells are 8.58 ug/L.  The highest levels found in the test wells are in test well #4 at 38.0 ug/L.  Water sample results taken in borings during the investigation show that PFOA levels in the aquifer are even higher.  The highest water result in the well field is 78 ug/l.  Selected soil samples were taken in two borings at the site.  The highest result for PFOA in the soil was 170 ug/kg.
 
 

NEED FOR INDEPENDENT HEALTH ASSESSMENT OF PFOA

DuPont obviously has a vested interest in the outcome of the health assessment of PFOA.  They have also been intricately involved with every aspect of the West Virginia Consent Order.


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·        DuPont’s subcontractors have collected all the soil and water samples taken under the consent order.  
·        DuPont had representatives on the CAT Team, which established a ‘screening level’ that is 150 times more than DuPont’s own Community Exposure Guideline of 1 ppb.  (This included Gerald R. Kennedy, DuPont’s lead toxicologist on C-8 issues, whom DuPont acknowledged had destroyed written and electronic documents about C-8.)
·        A laboratory under contract with DuPont analyzed the vast majority of the samples taken.  Before the LHWA wells were included in the sampling being conducted under the West Virginia consent order, we wanted to have our wells analyzed for PFOA.  Therefore, we contacted this lab, which we were told at the time was the only one in the country that could analyze our samples.  They initially refused to accept our samples because of their obligations to DuPont. 
·         Top officials of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), who are directly involved in protecting the public and environment from Teflon-related pollution, have been criticized because of reported prior connections with DuPont.  (EWG letter to Governor Bob Wise of March 12, 2003, attached)
 SUMMARY OF REASONS FOR CONCERN·

        Our water supply has been contaminated by DuPont with C-8.  Regardless of the safe level, C-8 does not belong in our drinking water.  No one has ever claimed that it is beneficial to have it contaminating our water.
·        The West Virginia CAT Team has established a ‘screening level’ of 150 ppb.   However, the Environmental Work Group, who says the number should be more in the range of 1.5 to 15 ppb, and the class action attorneys are challenging this high number.  It exceeds, by far, DuPont’s own internal community exposure guideline of 1 ppb, and they have been handling the chemical for more than 50 years.
 
 
 
Little Hocking Water Association, Inc.
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May 14, 2003

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·        DuPont, the company responsible for the C-8 contamination, and who has a large vested interest in the outcome, has participated in and exerted influence in virtually all aspects of the investigations and studies conducted under the West Virginia Consent Order. This is the same company that found that C-8 was contaminating our drinking water in 1984, but failed to inform us.  This is also the same company whose lead toxicologist on C-8, who served on the West Virginia CAT Team, has apparently destroyed written and electronic documents regarding the chemical.
·        3M Corporation announced the phasing out of their manufacture C-8 for reasons of responsible environmental management.   They subsequently submitted a Substantial Risk Notice to the U.S. EPA for C-8.
·        If C-8 is as ‘harmless’ as DuPont claims that it is, why are their new manufacturing facilities in Fayetteville, North Carolina designed to have almost no emissions compared to the thousands and thousands of pounds discharged annually from their Washington Works Plant in West Virginia?
·        We are concerned about the potentially acute and chronic exposure of our customers to C-8.   They probably have the highest exposure to this chemical of any people in this country (including some workers at the plant).  They are exposed three ways:  through everyday products, their drinking water, and the very air they breathe.  Local newspaper polls indicate that there is still a great deal of concern from local residents about the C-8 issue.
·        We are concerned about the unavailability of laboratories to perform analyses of PFOA that are not “tied up” by DuPont.  Further, the lack of a standard method for analyzing this chemical is problematic in establishing a sense of confidence in any number analyzed by a “continually evolving” laboratory technique.
·        Much time and effort has been expended in sampling and testing for C-8.  However, the question remains – what other chemicals are we unwittingly being exposed to through the contamination of our drinking water and air?
 
 
 
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We seem to be adrift in a sea of controversy and uncertainty about the health consequences of C-8.  We urge the U.S. EPA to establish a process for scientific analysis of data that is completely independent of the entities that have such a great economic interest in the outcome.  Our goal is to protect the public health and safety of our customers.  We are hopeful that the endeavors of the U.S. EPA in investigating this and similar chemicals will conclusively decide this matter.
Sincerely yours,
LITTLE HOCKING WATER ASSOCIATION, INC.
 
 
Robert L. Griffin, P.E.

General Manager
 
Cc:   Charles L. Watson, President LHWA

         Janet Dyar Welch, Attorney

         Linda Aller, Bennett & Williams

         file