updated 9/9/2004 3:50:07 PM ET 2004-09-09T19:50:07

DuPont agreed to a settlement Thursday that could be worth more than $340 million to resolve a class action lawsuit alleging the chemical giant contaminated water supplies in West Virginia and Ohio with a key ingredient used in its Teflon products.

A circuit judge must still approve the terms reached between DuPont and lawyers for as many as 60,000 residents who sued over exposure to the chemical C8, also known as ammonium perfluorooctanoate, or PFOA.

The settlement requires DuPont to make cash payments and expenditures of $85 million, as well as pay attorneys’ fees and expenses of $22.6 million. The agreement, which does not include any admission of liability by DuPont, also calls for chemical company to fund a $5 million study into whether C8 causes disease in humans. If a scientific panel finds such a link, DuPont would pay up to $235 million — the bulk of the potential settlement — on medical monitoring testing of residents.

“We want to make very clear that settling this lawsuit in no way implies any admission of liability on DuPont’s part,” said Stacey Mobley, DuPont general counsel. “Nevertheless, a settlement at this time provides benefit to both parties by taking reasonable steps based on science and, at the same time, contributing to the community.”

Harry Detzler, one of the lawyers for the residents, agreed.

“We strongly believe that this settlement is in the best interests of the class,” he said. “Had it been litigated, we wouldn’t be at this point for another two years.”

The proposed settlement follows a July report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency alleging DuPont of failing to properly report the discovery of C8, in drinking water near the company’s Washington Works facility near Parkersburg, which is near the Ohio border. DuPont is challenging those findings.

In afternoon trading Thursday, DuPont shares were up 15 cents at $42.91 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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