February 15, 2019

A chemical maker’s plant in Fayetteville may have broken federal law by failing to notify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before it started manufacturing and repurposing new industrial compounds, the agency said this week.

The Chemours Co. also failed to provide information showing when the company learned the chemical GenX contaminated water wells and properties around its factories near Fayetteville and Parkersburg, West Virginia, the EPA said in a violation notice letter dated Wednesday.

Federal law requires the producers of potentially toxic substances that “may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment” to notify the EPA before the companies start making new chemicals or use an existing compound for a significantly new use. That would allow the agency to investigate their effects.

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Operators of Chemours’ Fayetteville plant failed to give those required notices for several chemicals including HFPO, a chemical used to make the compound GenX. GenX has been found in drinking water wells near the plant and also the municipal utility serving the city of Wilmington, about 100 miles down the Cape Fear River.

The EPA classifies GenX as an “emerging contaminant” needing research. Animal studies show GenX has the potential to affect the kidneys, blood, immune system, liver and developing fetuses following oral exposure, the EPA said in a draft report released last year. “The data are suggestive of cancer,” the report said.

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