Lawyer Bénédicte Ficq has opened mass legal proceedings against all managers of Teflon factory Chemours since 1962 for allegedly knowingly releasing harmful chemicals into the environment for years.
Ficq is representing at least 2,700 complainants who support the accusation of “deliberate and illegal” pollution of groundwater, air and soil, specifically through releasing the carcinogens PFOA and GenX.
“Today I am handing over these reports personally to the public prosecution office. It’s a very big pile and it shows how big the problem is,” Ficq told RTL Nieuws on Monday.
Ficq is hoping the current and former managers of Chemours, formerly DuPont, will have to appear in front of a judge to answer questions about the legality of the licenses they procured, which, Ficq contends, were based on false information.
Earlier this year, Dordrecht, where Chemours is located, and nearby Sliedrecht, Papendrech and Molenlanden started proceedings against Chemours as well, for damage done to the environment by the discharge of the carcinogenic PFAS.
The local authorities also accuse Chemours and its predecessor DuPont, of having known about the dangers to health and environment posed by the substance but claim that it withheld this information in order to get permission to dump its waste.
“Ficq may win”
If the public prosecution office decides the case will come to court, Ficq may well win, environment lawyer Tim Bleeker told the broadcaster.
“She will have to prove the managers were aware of the health risks associated with the chemicals, something current affairs programme Zembla revealed recently. She will also have to show they were able to stop the discharges and whether or not they tried to prevent the damage, or hide it, which is a criminal offense,” Bleeker said.
However, the case will be a long one because it relates to individual liability. Ficq will have to establish how much every individual manager knew and what they did as a result. “It’s going to take a lot of detective work,” Bleeker said.
Ficq is also involved in a case against management at Tata Steel, where police have been investigating for the past 18 months.
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