Lisa J. Riggiola wasn't among those cheering DuPont's official spinoff of the Chemours chemical company this week, Jeff Montgomery and Jeff Mordock report in The News Journal (Wilmington, DE).
Riggiola, a Pompton Lakes, NJ, resident who grew up in the borough and served on its council, worries Chemours could be crippled by the weight of nationwide pollution cleanup bills the company carried away from DuPont's remaining enterprises. Those expenses, she said, might weaken Chemours' ability to follow through on a more-than-500-acre cleanup at a former DuPont explosives plant in her community.
"To me, it's a sad day because I don't know what's going to happen," said Riggiola, a member of a community advisory group. The organization recently asked federal officials to investigate the new company's ability to meet its obligations for cleaning up mercury, lead and other pollutants in soil, lake sediments and groundwater, including toxic solvent vapors surfacing under hundreds of homes.
Chemours this week completed its spinoff from DuPont and launched as an independent, publicly traded company, with headquarters in Wilmington.
At spots around Delaware, New Jersey and across the country, Chemours is now tied to 190 current or potential DuPont legacy cleanup sites under various programs.
Company legal disclosures estimated the cleanup liability at $295 million, with a possibility of topping $1 billion. Thousands of toxic-exposure, asbestos and contamination claims also are working through court systems nationwide, with a large number focused on water-supply contamination in West Virginia and Ohio.
Company officials have said they are confident the obligations will be covered, although Pompton Lakes, a former explosives plant, was identified as the lone site where expenses might have a "material" effect on company liquidity for a period, but not its overall financial position.
"These are well-characterized liabilities," said Marc Vergnano, a former DuPont executive vice president and Chemours' first CEO. "DuPont managed the environmental liabilities extremely well, and I am confident we will continue to do that."
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