DuPont Pays Historic $50 Million To Clean River in Waynesboro

Dec 16, 2016


Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe gestures during a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. McAuliffe announced a proposed $50 million settlement to resolve claims stemming from the release of mercury from the former E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) facility in Waynesboro, Virginia
Credit Steve Helber / AP

More than 50 years ago, a DuPont factory outside Waynesboro dumped mercury into the river. Now, in an historic settlement, the company is paying the state $50 million to clean up. Mallory Noe-Payne has more.

From 1929 to 1950 DuPont made rayon in its plant alongside the South River in Waynesboro, all the while dumping Mercury into the river.

It wasn’t until the 70’s that the damage was discovered. Since then, DuPont has worked with federal and state officials on a solution. John Cruden is with the Department of Justice.

“You have to assess the problem you have to find out what harm exists and then with scientist and experts and lawyers you have to come up with a plan to restore it,” explained Cruden during a press conference announcing the settlement Thursday. 

Credit Courtesy of The South River Science Team

That plan includes purchasing land along the river for conservation, renovations to the Front Royal Fish Hatchery, and restoration of habitat and water quality. It will all be paid for with $50 million from Dupont. 

Paul Phifer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services says that’s an historic amount. 

“This ranks 8th in all of time of natural resource damage settlements across the country," Phifer said. "And that includes such big cases like Deep Water Horizon and Exxon Valdez.” 

There will be a public meeting on the restoration plan January 10th at the Waynesboro Public Library. 

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