WASHINGTON, W.Va. - DuPont will continue to make Teflon brand products but will discontinue the use of a certain acid in its manufacture while the company begins work on separating its Performance Chemicals segment into its own company in the next year and a half.
Worries have been brought up in some parts of the area that the Washington Works plant was going to phase out Teflon production, which made up a sizable portion of the company's local workforce.
Those fears have escalated as lawsuits were recently filed in federal court over allegations that the C8 from the Wood County plant that had gotten into the drinking water supply was causing cancer.
"We will continue to manufacture and make available Teflon brand products," said Janet E. Smith, global public affairs leader for DuPont Chemicals & Fluoroproducts.
"What we have been phasing out is the use of PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). PFOA has been used by the industry for many years as a polymerization processing aid in the manufacture of some fluoropolymers, and DuPont sells some of its fluoropolymer-based products under the Teflon brand," Smith said.
Smith said under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2010/15 PFOA Stewardship Program, DuPont and seven other major manufacturers committed to significantly reduce manufacturing emissions and product content levels of PFOA and related chemicals by 2010. They also agreed to work toward the elimination of such emissions and product content by 2015.
"DuPont has made excellent progress against these goals, including the development of a patented new technology that enables us to make fluoropolymers without PFOA," she said. "As of mid-2013, DuPont no longer manufactures PFOA, and no longer uses PFOA in any fluoropolymer manufacturing.
"We will continue to offer products under the Teflon brand; the difference is that they are now made without the use of PFOA."
Last week, company officials announced DuPont will execute a full separation of its Performance Chemicals segment through a tax-free spinoff to shareholders.
"This will result in Performance Chemicals becoming a separate publicly held company in about 18 months," Smith said. "This move advances the transformation of DuPont into a higher growth, higher value company.
"The new Performance Chemicals company will be highly competitive, with industry-leading products and strong cash flow, and will immediately be one of the world's largest chemical companies. Teflon brand products are part of the businesses being spun off," Smith said.
The immediate impact to the Washington Works plant is not known as the company is beginning the process of dividing the entities involved.
"It's important to remember that DuPont just made the decision to spin these businesses off, and we are now beginning work to prepare for the separation of Performance Chemicals from DuPont," Smith said. "We have many decisions to make before this process is completed in about 18 months.
"That work will include decisions about how the new company will be structured and which plant sites will be part of the new company."
At this time, there is no impact for the DuPont plant in Wood County.
"During the time leading up to the spinoff, we will communicate additional information with our employees and site communities as it becomes available," Smith said. "We expect we will continue to have a strong presence in West Virginia.
"Clearly, manufacturing will be critical to the new company, and will continue to be critical to DuPont."