USW To DuPont: Not So Fast

Union says DuPont should stop making PFOA sooner than its announced date of 2015.

On the heels of DuPont's announcement Monday that it will stop manufacturing PFOA, a chemical used to make Teflon,  by 2015, the United Steelworkers Union had some advice for the company: Don't pat yourself too hard on the back.

The USW accused DuPont of “greenwashing” its responsibilities for polluting the environment, saying DuPont's announcement is little more than a decoy "to take the heat off the chemical giant and allow it to manufacture and use PFOA for eight more years while contaminating the environment with a bio-persistent chemical that has been labeled a likely human carcinogen by the EPA Science Advisory Board."

The USW believes that DuPont, which the USW accuses of having a long record of environmental pollution and refusing to "come clean" over PFOA, should accept major responsibility for the wide-ranging presence of PFOA in human and animal blood, double its efforts to find a safe substitute for PFOA, phase it out much earlier than 2015, eliminate production of products that can break down to PFOA, and allow third-party oversight of its efforts.

In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency asked DuPont and seven other companies to agree to a 95 percent reduction in environmental emissions and product content levels of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and associated chemicals by 2010.

The EPA also asked the companies to work toward eliminating PFOA and associated chemicals from emissions and products by 2015.

In DuPont's announcement on Monday, David Boothe, business manager for DuPont fluoroproducts, said the company has been working on alternative technologies to PFOA and believes that by 2015 it will be able to eliminate the need to make, buy or use PFOA.

The USW has been in the forefront of calling the public’s attention to DuPont’s use of PFOA as part of its DuPont Accountability Project, and PFOA contamination of public water supplies in Ohio, New Jersey, North Carolina, Mississippi and Virginia.

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