Chemical Foxes Guarding The EPA's Hen House

Senators Burr & Tillis Confirm a 20-Year Dow/DuPont Employee To Head EPA’s Hazardous Substances and Superfund Office

WILMINGTON, North Carolina – July 13, 2019

On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Peter C. Wright as Assistant Administrator to EPA’s Office of Solid Waste. Both Senator Tillis and Senator Burr voted yes to confirm Mr. Wright. The Office of Solid Waste oversees EPA’s management of hazardous substances and also controls Superfund clean-up law. 

Mr. Wright spent his entire career as legal counsel for large chemical companies. He started his career working for Monsanto before joining Dow/DuPont in 1999. Last year, The New York Times documented Mr. Wright’s controversial career at Dow/DuPont where deceptive strategies were used to delay and/or avoid EPA superfund clean-up related to dioxin contamination in a Michigan river.

“We are surprised and confused by Senators Burr and Tillis’ votes,” says Emily Donovan, co-founder of Clean Cape Fear. “It feels like these votes are a betrayal of North Carolinians’ trust.” 

Mr. Wright’s nomination stalled last year due to concerns regarding his close association with chronic corporate polluters. Ultimately, the senate voted along party lines to confirm him.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry states certain PFAS chemicals are linked to cancer, affect growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children, increases infertility in women, disrupts the body’s natural hormones, creates high cholesterol, and impacts the immune system. 

Wilmington and Fayetteville residents have been exposed to a cocktail of PFAS for decades--many of which have not been studied for their health impacts, yet are found in Wilmington residents’ blood in high concentrations.

Currently, no federal laws exist to designate PFAS as hazardous substances, limit their discharges into the air and water, require filtering of contaminated water, or require clean-up of legacy PFAS contamination. 

Both Senators co-sponsored the 2019 PFAS Action Act earlier this year which would designate PFAS under CERCLA as a hazardous substance. The Senate has yet to vote on this bill. Also, neither Senator took the opportunity to co-sponsor similar legislation during the senate version of the annual defense spending bill. Clean Cape Fear is concerned the confirmation of Mr. Wright to oversee EPA’s hazardous substances is a threat to public health and the environment. 

“This is corporate capture,” said Donovan. “This is why Americans feel the EPA is broken. Our elected officials are doing it on purpose. That is not okay. It’s irresponsible.”

Emily DonovanComment