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Chemical Spills by Dupont Worse than Exxon Valdez?

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the City of Carneys Point, N.J., has sued the DuPont Co., for chemical spills that have occurred over many decades at the Dupont Chamber's Works Chemical Complex.Dupont-Logo (1).png

The City of Carney's Point complaint demands the Wilmington chemical giant pay more than $1 billion to clean up chemical spills at the Chambers Works, a town-sized chemical complex on the Delaware River that DuPont opened as an ammunition factory in 1892 and last year transferred to its spin-off company, Chemours.

The suit was filed Dec. 12 by Carneys Point Mayor Joseph F. Racite, a retired Carneys Point policeman, fire-extinguisher distributor and Baptist minister who is also vice chairman of the county sewer authority.

His office referred questions to its lead lawyer for the case, Albert I. Telsey of Newark, N.J., who grew up near Chambers Works in Salem, N.J.

DuPont was the respected major corporate employer in Salem County, a partly rural wedge of New Jersey across the Delaware from DuPont headquarters in Wilmington.

But in spinning off Chambers Works and other old, polluted plants, DuPont "cut and ran," Telsey added.

Carneys Point officials now fear the public will be stuck with cleanup costs after DuPont disappears next year in its scheduled merger with Dow Chemical Co.

DuPont says it's already done what the law requires to clean up old pollution, and Chemours is mopping up as the new owner.

"Chemours is currently operating under a U.S. EPA environmental permit, with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection oversight, to remediate the Chambers Works site," according to DuPont spokesman Dan Turner.

"We have always taken very seriously our commitments to the health, safety and well-being of our employees and communities in which we operate," Turner added. "We are reviewing the allegations in the suit."

Citing state and company data, the suit notes Chambers Works has been polluted with chemical spills, including "mercury, benzene, acids, sodium hydroxide, aluminum chloride, ammonia, sodium, sulfur, benzene, nitrobenzene, nitrotoluene, chlorobenzene, methyl ammonia and ethyl chloride, among others."

The company has also dumped waste including slag, sludge, dust, and "millions of gallons" of contaminated water into ponds and "unlined landfills" that drained into the Delaware and the Salem Canal.

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