Hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee of the House House Oversight and Reform Committee - Opening Statement of Rep. Kildee, Hearing on PFAS Chemical Contamination


Date: Sept. 10, 2019
Location: Washington, DC

REP. DAN KILDEE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to participate in this hearing. And thank you especially for your leadership on this question and for holding what has been a very informative series of hearings. I am not going to be redundant by asking some of the same questions, but I'd like to make a bit of a statement. But I would like to clarify something before I move forward. Mr. Roberts, could you reiterate what you said about what compounds should, in your opinion or in the opinion of your company, should be regulated under CERCLA?

MR. ROBERTS, DUPONT: For us, the compounds of PFOA and PFOS, which are the two C-8 chemistries which are considered long chain. They are the chemistries which we recognized as being highly bio-persistent, meaning they have half lives that can be greater than a year. Because of that connection to bio persistence that is the reason why we believe that those are the chemicals that should be considered for CERCLA.

REP. DAN KILDEE: I thought that's what I understood you to say. And I guess I'm kind of a little bit puzzled. I think that you mentioned, Mr. Roberts, that Chemours has adequate financial resources to deal with any finical liability for clean-up, or for any liability that might emanate out of health concerns as a result of these chemical contaminates. Mr. Kirsch, is your position that Chemours was provided with adequate financial resources as a part of the spin off to deal with what would obviously be a pretty significant cost to deal with clean-up and other liability issues?

MR. KIRSCH, CHEMOURS: Thank you for the question, Congressman. The answer would be a clear no.

I think the amended complaint that you all received has a couple interesting examples. I will mention one and it gets back to the North Carolina situation. The maximum liability that Dupont estimated for North Carolina in the spin off was $2.09 million, and as I mentioned in my oral remarks, that cleanup effort in stopping the emissions in that facility will cost us well north of $200 million dollars.

REP. DAN KILDEE: So, this is the concern that many of us have. We hear from one witness who has off-loaded their liability that they think the chemicals in question should be regulated CERCLA, but then the company that does have liability has not been given adequate resources to deal with that obligation.

And listening to the witness representing 3M, you want to get credit for the decision to no longer produce these dangerous chemicals voluntarily, but in the same breath want us to believe that there is no science that says these chemicals are dangerous at all. So, if you are responsible for the creation and promulgation of these chemicals in the environment you can off-load the obligation to somebody else who doesn't have enough resource, and if you create these chemicals that then contaminate people and affect their lives you can take credit for the fact that your taking them out of commerce and no longer putting into the environment, but in the same token say that there is nothing saying that this is dangerous. This is ridiculous! This is ridiculous.

We have a huge problem in this country. The people I represent for example in the town of Oscoda, Michigan, who hosted an Air Force base, the Wurtsmith Air Force Base had their ground water contaminated, have had their way of life affected, it's a part of Michigan that is right on the shore of Lake Huron and a beautiful part of our state. Where the culture is one of hunting and fishing, and where now you can't hunt the animals because the groundwater has contaminated them, you can't eat the fish that you catch because they are too dangerous to consume. And we have companies that have benefited and made millions and billions of dollars by selling these products into commerce who now want to point the finger at somebody else or say that, well, were not going to produce these chemicals anymore, but believe me there is no science that says they aren't safe. I take issue with that.

There is plenty of science out there that demonstrate these are harmful chemicals and dangerous for human consumption. Otherwise, you wouldn't have taken them off the market in the first place. Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. This has been quite elucidating and I think what we are hearing today I think makes the case that we can't sit and wait for voluntary action even though I think obviously we would appreciate action.

Congress has to act. It's the only way we going to get to the problem at a scale equal to the problem.