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Another judge heard from: PFOA suit allowed in N.J.

BY Ken Ward Jr.

Less than a week after a major victory in a federal court in West Virginia, DuPont Co. today was handed a serious setback in its efforts to fend off citizen lawsuits over PFOA pollution.

The ruling came in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, where residents are suing DuPont over contamination of their drinking water with ammonium perfluorooctanoate, or PFOA, also known as C8.

Ruling in two different cases against DuPont, U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb allowed residents to pursue claims of private nuisance and strict liability as class-action suits against the chemical giant.

I’ve posted a copy of the 44-page decision here.

The result is quite different from that in a similar West Virginia case, where U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin has declined to allow residents to proceed as a class and — in a bombshell ruling last week — dismissed all claims against DuPont except for medical monitoring.

Goodwin was ruling in a case brought by residents of the city of Parkersburg, whose water supply has been polluted with C8 from DuPont’s nearby Washington Works plant. Unlike residents who live outside the city of Parkersburg and get their water from other local water systems, Parkersburg residents have not been offered water treatment or alternative water supplies provided or funded by DuPont.

In New Jersey, residents allege DuPont’s Chambers Work plant in Deepwater polluted drinking water supplies of the Penn’s Grove Water Supply Company and of private residential wells.

Remember that scientists reported in a peer-reviewed journal that they found levels of PFOA in New Jersey drinking water of up to 0.19 parts per billion, far greater than the safety guideline for long-term exposure of 0.04 parts per billion set by that state’s regulators.

Nationwide and in Parkersburg, the U.S. EPA has set a much less protective “health advisory” for PFOA in drinking water of 0.40 parts per billion.

Residents of Parkersburg who drink their city’s water continue to be exposed to levels of C8 greater than those considered safe by regulatory and health experts in New Jersey.