Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) filed a lawsuit in Delaware’s Court of Chancery seeking to prevent financial restructuring involving DuPont, Chemours, and related companies from shielding them from liability for damage resulting from PFAS contamination at the Fayetteville Works chemical plant.
The suit – Cape Fear Public Utility Authority v. EIDP Inc., et al. – was filed Friday, March 24.
The Delaware suit alleges that in 2013 DuPont faced mounting legal liabilities for contamination related to its PFAS manufacturing and “began consideration of restructuring transactions … to avoid responsibility for the widespread environmental harm that DuPont’s PFAS contamination had caused and shield billions of dollars in assets from these substantial liabilities.”
Restructuring activities cited in the lawsuit include DuPont’s creation of Chemours, DuPont’s merger with the Dow Chemical Company, and the creation of Corteva Inc., which holds DuPont as a subsidiary.
Relief sought by the lawsuit includes asking the court to:
- Entitle CFPUA to satisfy its damage claims “to the extent necessary” from named defendant companies without regard to restructuring activities.
- Prevent further restructuring, transfers, or similar actions related to assets that formerly were owned by Chemours or DuPont.
In 2017, representatives of Chemours told our community that it and DuPont, which created Chemours in 2015, had been discharging PFAS from the Fayetteville Works into the Cape Fear River since 1980. The chemical manufacturing plant discharges into the river upstream from intakes providing raw water to downstream drinking water utilities serving hundreds of thousands of people, including CFPUA’s customers.
CFPUA’s Sweeney Water Treatment Plant sources raw water from the Cape Fear River and provides about 80 percent of the drinking water CFPUA provides to its more than 200,000 customers. At the time of the 2017 revelation about PFAS contamination, Sweeney was not equipped to effectively treat for PFAS, despite tens of millions of dollars in upgrades that made Sweeney one of North Carolina’s most sophisticated water treatment plants.
Since then, CFPUA and its ratepayers spent $43 million to build new granular activated carbon (GAC) filters. The new GAC filters came online in October 2022 and have been removing Chemours’ PFAS during treatment to levels at or near non-detection in finished drinking water.
CFPUA filed a separate federal lawsuit in 2017 to recover costs and damages related to Chemours’ and Dupont’s PFAS releases from their chemical plant.
Resolution of that lawsuit likely is several years away, and it is not possible to predict what that might entail, including any monetary award.
CFPUA is a public entity, funded by ratepayers and operating without any profit. CFPUA customers would be the beneficiaries of any award received from the lawsuit.