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payback time: A West Virginia state judge approved on November 23, 2004, a US$70 million medical study to be conducted by chemical giant DuPont Company among nearly 80,000 people of two states who drank water contaminated with C8, a chemical used by DuPont to produce Teflon at its West Virginia plant. DuPont will incur a total expenditure of about US $107.6 million to settle the class action lawsuit over polluted water supplies near the plant.
Apart from the study, the company would spend US$10 million on providing new equipment to six local drinking water utilities to reduce C8. It would also fund another US$5 million independent study to determine if C8 is harmful for human beings and pay US$22.6 million to the people who sued. While the formal settlement agreement was filed recently, the settlement is expected to be made final only after a public hearing on February 28, 2004.
The use of C8 is unregulated and its long-term health effects on humans are unknown, although the chemical has been used since World War II. DuPont is believed to have cut its C8 emissions by 95 per cent since the lawsuit was filed in 2001. The US Environmental Protection Agency has asked it to pay several millions dollars as a fine for not providing the required information about C8.