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State attorneys say DuPont spin-offs should be liable for PFAS contamination

Sign outside Chemours' Fayetteville Works site
Vince Winkel

The North Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case involving PFAS contamination. At issue is whether the state can sue holding companies created by DuPont, which once operated a plant in Fayetteville that's responsible for dumping chemicals into the Cape Fear River.

In 2015, DuPont spun off the plant's operation to a new company, Chemours. DuPont later merged with Dow Chemical and created two more spin-offs. The Attorney General's office says the twin companies only exist on paper, and it has the right to sue them over PFAS contamination.

"This was a corporate restructuring, where the same company was broken down into component parts, and is now saying, 'we didn't even exist at the time that these liabilities arose,'" state Department of Justice attorney Ryan Park told the court.

John Ackerman, an attorney for DuPont, told the justices that the spin-offs have no liability because they are "two Delaware holding companies that have never done business here, have no operations here, don't sell sell any products into the state, and do not use the compounds that are issue."

The Supreme Court has not said when it will issue a decision in the case.

Meanwhile, Chemours is holding public forums this weekon its plans to expand the Fayetteville plant.

Bradley George is WUNC's AM reporter. A North Carolina native, his public radio career has taken him to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and most recently WUSF in Tampa. While there, he reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the station's Murrow award winning coverage of the 2020 election. Along the way, he has reported for NPR, Marketplace, The Takeaway, and the BBC World Service. Bradley is a graduate of Guilford College, where he majored in Theatre and German.
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