FILE - North Carolina Supreme Court

The North Carolina Supreme Court chamber in the Supreme Court building in Raleigh, N.C.

(The Center Square) — The North Carolina Attorney General wants the state Supreme Court to allow lawsuits to proceed against two paper companies allegedly created by DuPont to avoid liability for contamination.

Solicitor General Ryan Parks argued before the high court on Monday that DuPont created two new companies through a complex business restructuring in 2019 to shield $20 billion from potential legal liabilities associated with perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination from a Fayetteville Works plant.

A state business court previously found the companies — Corteva and New DuPont — could be held liable for claims in North Carolina, and the companies appealed to the state Supreme Court, NC Policy Watch reports.

DuPont created the company Chemours in 2015 amid PFAS lawsuits in West Virginia and Ohio and the company currently runs the Fayetteville Works plant. North Carolina sued Chemours and DuPont for "all past and future costs to assess, remediate, restore and remedy environmental harms" at the site, where DuPont discharged the toxic chemical into drinking water and air.

But DuPont intentionally undercapitalized Chemours to avoid paying claims for current and future lawsuits involving contamination, parking $20 billion in Corteva and New DuPont, companies with no employees, offices or equipment, Parks said.

Parks argued the potential PFAS liabilities "were enterprise-threatening" for DuPont, so the company shifted its assets to Corteva and New DuPont. He alleged DuPont and Chemours are now unable to pay claims that might result from the lawsuits.

"This was a corporate restructuring, where the same company was broken down into component parts, and is now saying, ‘we didn’t even exist at the time these liabilities arose," Park told the court, according to WUNC.

Parks told justices that "any company could immunize itself by making changes to its corporate form" if the Supreme Court fails to hold the paper companies liable for the contamination claims, according to NC Policy Watch.

Attorney John Ackerman, who represented both New DuPont and Corteva, argued justices should not hold the companies liable because they’re "two Delaware holding companies that have never done business here, have no operations here, don’t sell any products into the state, and do not use the compounds that are (at) issue," WUNC reports.

"They don’t produce (PFAS)," he said.

Ackerman also countered Parks’ assertion DuPont and Chemours would be unable to pay claims.

Documents from the Securities Exchange Commission cited by NC Policy Watch show Corteva created a cost-sharing agreement with DuPont that would split the first $300 million in liabilities for PFAS contamination.

The case comes as Chemours is holding public meetings today and tomorrow on plans to increase production of a PFA "forever chemical" used in the semiconductor industry, despite concerns with the plan violating discharge and emissions limits in a consent order with the state and Cape Fear River Watch.

PFAS are a group of thousands of man-made toxic chemicals that break down very slowly in the environment and are linked to numerous types of cancers and other serious health conditions.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced plans earlier this month to regulate PFAS as hazardous waste, which would increase restrictions on disposal.

The North Carolina Supreme Court is now reviewing the oral arguments in the DuPont case, though there is no mandated timeline for a decision, according to NC Policy Watch.