OHIO VALLEY — The C8 Science Panel needs three more months to complete their work.
On Monday, members of the panel joined a status hearing in Wood County Circuit Court via teleconference to explain their request for more time.
In a similar hearing last year, Judge J.D. Beane pushed the panel to set a deadline for the completion of their court-ordered work. At that time, the panel estimated they would release their final results by July 31.
However, in a memo to the court filed in June, the C8 Science Panel requested more time to file their final reports.
Dr. Kyle Steenland apologized for the delay and explained that it was because of the need to fully document the panel’s decisions and their analysis leading to their conclusions.
“We are trying to be as complete as possible but it’s taking us longer than we thought,” Steenland said.
“The primary reason that we were not able to fulfill our commitment to meet the deadline of July for all the assessments was that we underestimated the painstaking process of resolving several assessments that are very close to the balance between presence or absence of a probable link,” the panel stated in their June memo to the court. “The process of preparing a probable link assessment involves generating data from our own research, integrating that information with studies conducted by others, careful evaluation and deliberation, and then writing a document to summarize the evidence and explain our reasoning. The process of assessing the evidence and composing the documents is far more demanding than we had anticipated at the outset, and each disease is handled separately.”
In December, the panel released its first set of probable link findings, which determined there was a link between C8 exposure and pregnancy-induced hypertension. In April, the panel tied C8 exposure to kidney and testicular cancer.
Later this month, the panel will file seven additional reports including probable link findings for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke, infectious disease, thyroid disease, auto-immune disease and neurological development in children.
Before the end of October, the panel will release their final series of reports on liver disease, kidney disease, osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, hypercholesterolemia and hypertension.
Class counsel Harry Deitzler called the delay unfortunate and disappointing, but said “nobody’s dragging their feet”.
“It is frustrating when deadlines are set and then those weren’t met,” said Judge Beane, who asked the panel to “make every effort” to reach the new timeline.
Before the conclusion of the hearing, Deitzler asked DuPont to adhere to the terms of the settlement agreement with regards to water filtration for the impacted communities. In June, it was reported that in some cases small amounts of C8 were being allowed to seep through the filtration systems and into the finished water. Original plans call for the water to be filtered to the lowest practical level.
“People over there are fairly concerned about this,” Deitzler said. “All they want is clean water.”
DuPont’s attorney said there was “no conscious decision to no longer abide by the terms of the settlement”.
Callie Lyons is the editor of Marietta-based newspaper The Anchor. She is also the author of a book on the topic of C8 titled, ‘Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof, and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8’.