Published Tue, Jan 22, 2013 6:16 pm Dateline
A Guysville man is suing a multinational chemical company after he was diagnosed with several illnesses that he claims are linked to a toxic chemical used at a West Virginia plant.
John Wright, 52, who says he has been drinking water at his Guysville home for the past 20 years, is suing DuPont with the help of his attorney Kathy Brown.
Wright said he suffers from three illnesses linked to a toxic chemical known as C-8, which the company used during the manufacturing of Teflon products between the 1950s and 2000.
During the manufacturing process at the Washington, W.Va. plant, a large amount of the chemical was released into the air, the Ohio River and in private wells.
"You drink your water. You think it's safe. You don't really expect something like that to come through your tap water," Wright said.
Wright is just one of 26 people suing DuPont for medical issues related to C-8, although Brown said the chemical may have affected the lives of 80,000 people.
"Not everybody will have a disease, but there is the potential that they could have a disease next year, 10 years from now, 15 years from now," said Brown.
As a result of a class-action lawsuit against DuPont in 2001, a science panel was formed to study the effects of C-8 on humans. The panel found that the chemical is linked to various ailments including kidney cancer, testicular cancer and thyroid disease.
To be eligible to file a suit, a resident must have lived in one of the affected water districts for more than one year before December 2004.
Affected water districts in Ohio include Belpre, Little Hocking, Tuppers Plains and Pomeroy. Affected districts in West Virginia include Lubeck Public Service District and Mason County Public Service District.
Wright says he's concerned about what he could miss out on as a result of his medical issues.
"[I'm] just wondering if there's any other illnesses that are going to pop up later in my life. I'd like to see my grandson graduate, stuff like that," Wright said. "I'm not sure if it's going to affect anything later down the line or not," he said.
DuPont does not acknowledge a direct link between their use of C-8 and Wright's medical conditions.
"Lawsuits such as these ignore family history and lifestyle choices as a primary cause of health issues and disease in specific individuals. DuPont will vigorously defend against any and all such lawsuits not based upon valid science," said a DuPont spokesperson in a statement.
Wright said he's not looking to profit from his lawsuit, and just wants to hold the right people accountable.
"As far as my gain, I didn't really expect anything. Maybe if they pay my medical bills, [that would be] great, but I'd just hate to see anyone else get sick," Wright said.
Brown said she will hold two town hall meetings this month for people who may have been affected by the chemical.
The first will be held in Point Pleasant, W.Va. on January 24, and the second will take place in Pomeroy on January 31.