New details related to a federal lawsuit against DuPont allege the company failed to install properly upgraded equipment at its former Chattanooga plant.
Mary Beth Jarvis, a spokeswoman for Invista, said federal law required DuPont to update the equipment to the “best available control technology” when it upgraded the equipment at the North Access Road nylon-production plant in Chattanooga.
“DuPont has continually refused to honor its obligations,” said the spokeswoman for Invista, which purchased the Chattanooga plant and others in 2004 for $4.2 billion. “This lawsuit is an unfortunate but necessary step.”
The federal lawsuit filed last month by Invista claims DuPont failed to make mandatory safety and environmental upgrades as required by law while installing new equipment in several plants including one in Chattanooga.
“The manufacturing plants that DuPont sold Invista in 2004 were revealed to have significant and widespread problems with compliance, particularly with safety and environmental regulations,” she said.
Workers at the Chattanooga plant never were exposed to any harmful materials, Ms. Jarvis said, but that isn’t the case at every plant.
Officials at DuPont declined to comment on the allegations and issued a statement claiming Invista has distorted the facts because of a contract dispute.
“DuPont intends to vigorously defend itself against Invista’s grossly exaggerated and misguided allegations and is confident that it will be vindicated when all of the evidence is examined by a court of law,” the statement says.
According to the DuPont statement, the lawsuit constitutes “opportunistic efforts” to fund Invista’s production capacity expansions and capital improvement projects.
“DuPont has established a track record of working openly and cooperatively with the multitude of agencies that oversee compliance at its global operations,” the statement said. “During its ownership of the facilities at issue, DuPont invested tens of millions of dollars on environmental projects, upgrades and retrofits and on hundreds of health and safety upgrade and improvement projects.”
However, Invista has spent about $140 million to make some of the necessary upgrades, and Ms. Jarvis said many more are needed.
Invista is seeking $800 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages in the lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York.
The lawsuit involves 14 plants in five countries — Victoria, LaPorte and Orange, Texas; Camden, S.C. ; Seaford, Del.; Chattanooga; Waynesboro, Va.; Maitland and Kingston, Ontario, Canada; Wilton, Gloucester, and Maydown, U.K; Dordrecht, Netherlands; and Paulinia, Brazil.