The public prosecution department is starting an investigation into the use of potentially dangerous chemicals at two Dupont chemical works near Dordrecht, the AD said on Monday.
The investigation follows other probes by the public health institute RIVM and social affairs ministry into claims that the use of chemicals has caused health problems in both staff and locals.
‘The investigation is focusing on the substances C8 and DMAc,’ spokesman Valentine Hoen told the paper. ‘Once the research has been completed, the prosecutor will decide if Dupont should face charges.”
Although Dupont is not yet being treated as a formal suspect, the spokesman said that there is ‘hard evidence’ that criminal acts have been committed, ‘otherwise we would not start this investigation’.
The public health institute RIVM said in March that people living close to the plant were for years exposed to higher than permitted levels of a chemical used in the making of Teflon. Perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as C8, is classed as ‘potentially carcenogenic’ to humans by the World Health Organisation.
In its report, the RIVM said locals were exposed to higher than legal amounts of the compound via the atmosphere from 1970 to 2002 but not via drinking water. ‘In the worst case scenario, the norm was broken for 25 years,’ the RIVM is quoted as saying.
In 2002 emissions from the plant fell to below agreed norms and in 2012, C8 was replaced in Telfon production by another less harmful chemical. The factory is now known as Chemours.
The second part of the investigation involves exposure to DMAc, a solvent used in the making of Lycra. A large percentage of the workforce was made up of young women and it has been claimed they have suffered from much higher than average fertility and related problems.
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