February 20, 2019

In a move some environmental groups call an ‘important first step’, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality today filed a Revised Consent Order that will hold Chemours accountable for PFAS contamination, including GenX, in the Cape Fear Region.

According to a news release from NCDEQ, the order is a critical step to provide relief to people around the Fayetteville Works facility and to communities downstream.

“People affected by GenX and PFAS pollution in the Cape Fear River basin deserve real relief, and this order provides that relief,” said Secretary Michael Regan. “We listened to the comments from the community, from leaders and from public utilities and have established a strong path forward to protect water quality and public health.”

The order will require Chemours to address all sources of PFAS at the facility to prevent further impacts to air, soil, groundwater and surface waters. It will be implemented under the supervision of DEQ, Bladen County Superior Court, and, for certain portions, Cape Fear River Watch. The order does not prevent other parties from taking action against Chemours.

The order has been revised in response to more than 380 public comments received by DEQ since November. As a result of revisions to the order, Chemours will now be required to:

  • Report air emissions of GenX compounds each month.
  • Measure and analyze Chemours’ contribution to PFAS contamination at downstream public utilities’ raw water intakes.
  • Submit an analysis of PFAS contamination in river sediment.
  • Remove 99% of the contamination of the surface water and groundwater from an old outfall at the site.
  • Provide downstream public utilities with an accelerated plan to reduce PFAS contamination in the Cape Fear River.
  • Provide effective systems to treat drinking water fountains and sinks in public buildings.
  • Ensure that filtration systems are operating properly and are maintained for a minimum of 20 years.

Entrance of this order will not prevent DEQ from taking any future enforcement action against Chemours if the agency acquires new information that indicates additional enforcement measures are warranted. In addition, nothing in the order releases any other entity, including DuPont, from any liability it may have resulting from its actions. In addition to these new requirements in the order, the order requires Chemours to take the following actions:

  • Reduce GenX emissions by 99% and control air emissions of all PFAS routed to a new thermal oxidizer by at least 99.99%.
  • Achieve maximum reductions in PFAS loading to the Cape Fear River from all sources on an accelerated basis.
  • Provide permanent drinking water supplies – either in the form of either a public waterline connection or whole building filtration system – for those with drinking water wells with GenX above 140 parts per trillion.
  • Provide under-sink reverse osmosis drinking water systems for well owners with combined concentrations of certain PFAS above 70 parts per trillion or concentrations of certain individual PFAS above 10 parts per trillion.
  • Sample drinking water wells at least one-quarter mile beyond the closest well that had concentrations of certain PFAS above 10 parts per trillion.
  • Annually retest wells in a manner sufficient to determine the extent of contamination.
  • Submit and implement a plan for sampling all process and non-process wastewater and stormwater to identify and measure concentrations of PFAS, including non-targeted analysis to identify PFAS that have not been previously identified.
  • Notify downstream public water utilities when an event at the facility has the potential to cause a discharge of GenX compounds into the Cape Fear River above 140 parts per trillion.

“Cape Fear River Watch continues to stand up for clean water for all North Carolinians,” said Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette. “This consent order is an important first step in stopping pollution from leaving the Chemours site and entering the Cape Fear River, ground water, and the air. We are committed to seeing this process through until Chemours can prove that they have cleaned up the mess they have created.”

The order was signed by Secretary Regan on behalf of DEQ, representatives of Chemours, the Cape Fear River Keeper and their counsel of record, the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The complete article can be accessed here.