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C8 Science Panel schedules public meetings

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A three-person panel studying the health effects of the toxic chemical C8 said Monday it would hold three public meetings later this month to hear from Mid-Ohio Valley residents.

The meetings, set for Sept. 26 and 27, will be the first open, public meetings held by the C8 Science Panel since it announced its detailed study plans five years ago.

"No new results or conclusions will be announced at the meeting," the panel said in a prepared statement.

"This is rather an opportunity, while the work is still ongoing, for dialogue between the local community and the Science Panel," the statement said. "The Science Panel hopes to have the opportunity to learn more of community concerns and explain more of the process of the science, the results and their careful consideration of this landmark case."

The meetings will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 26 at Blennerhassett Middle School Auditorium and 6 p.m. Sept. 27 at Meigs County Middle School Auditorium. Meetings are scheduled for 90 minutes each.

Science Panel members are working to implement a key provision of a $107.6 million class-action settlement between DuPont and about 70,000 residents whose drinking water was polluted by C8 from the company's Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg.

Panel members Kyle Steenland, David Savitz and Tony Fletcher were appointed to study C8 and determine if there is a "probable link" between exposure and illness. If they conclude there is, DuPont could be on the hook for up to $235 million for future medical monitoring for area residents.

Science Panel members scheduled the public meetings only after Wood Circuit Judge J.D. Beane, who is overseeing the settlement, blasted them during a court hearing in May for not moving quickly enough and not updating residents on their work.

"The forums will consist of a short introduction by the Panelists including updates of where the research is now, what they've done to get to this point, and when final results can be expected" the statement said. "Questions will then be taken from the public."

The panel has published peer-reviewed papers and separate reports to the court that found C8 exposure associated with a variety of adverse health effects, ranging from high cholesterol and hypertension to birth defects and learning disorders in children. So far, though, the panelists have not filed a report in which they actually either find or rule out a "probable" link between such problems and C8 exposure.

C8 is another name for perfluorooctanoate acid, or PFOA. In West Virginia, DuPont has used C8 since the 1950s as a processing agent to make Teflon and other nonstick products, oil-resistant paper packaging and stain-resistant textiles.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.


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