State issues notice of violation to Chemours

Posted September 6

Cape Fear River

— State regulators issued a Notice of Violation on Wednesday to Chemours, which owns an industrial facility near Fayetteville that has discharged chemicals into the Cape Fear River for decades.

The step, which some have been pushing Gov. Roy Cooper's Department of Environmental Quality to take for weeks, follows August testing in wells surrounding the Chemours facility showing GenX in nearby groundwater. The notice comes one day after the state filed suit against the company and announced plans to pull the plant's permit if it doesn't comply with various ultimatums.

Officials also accused the company Tuesday of misleading regulators about what it was putting in the river, a shift in the way DEQ had been handling this issue.

The Notice of Violation also comes just before a Friday deadline set by the General Assembly to either issue the notice or provide a detailed report explaining the reason a notice hadn't been issued.

WRAL News has reached out to a Chemours spokesman for comment.

The wells tested aren't used for drinking water, but the state said it will also test drinking wells for people living nearby. An informational meeting is planned for Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. at St. Paul's Middle School.

Much of the previous testing focused on the Cape Fear River and municipal water supplies drawn from it. The August samples were taken from 14 groundwater monitoring wells, and preliminary results from one testing company showed GenX above acceptable limits in 13 of them, DEQ said Wednesday. Results from two other companies that sent samples are still pending, the department said.

Tracking GenX

State environmental officials began testing locations along the Cape Fear River for concentrations of GenX on June 19, 2017, and have continued to sample the water to track the contaminant. After the chemical company Chemours agreed to stop dumping GenX into the river June 20, concentrations dropped drastically, in most cases below the 140 parts per trillion public health standard set by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Find out more about how the state's ongoing tests of water for GenX in 13 locations along the Cape Fear River have changed over time. "Raw" sites were tested before water treatment, while "finished" sites were tested after treatment. Data updated Aug. 28, 2017

Below standard Above standard
Graphic by Tyler Dukes

GenX is a chemical used to make Teflon and other products. It's from a family of toxic chemicals, but its own toxicity is not fully documented, and state officials have said it is safe to drink the water in Wilmington and other localities that draw from the Cape Fear River. Tests have shown a number similar compounds in the river since The Wilmington StarNews ran an expose in June that delved into the quality of local drinking water.

Also Wednesday, Brunswick County announced it has hired attorneys to "represent its interests against Chemours" as well as the company's predecessor at the plant, DuPont and Kuraray, which also has operations at the Fayetteville Works site.

"This is an important step in protecting the long-term quality of public drinking water in the Cape Fear Region," Brunswick County Manager Ann Hardy said in a news release. "As we have said on numerous occasions, we will not stand for the discharge of perfluorinated chemicals into our public drinking water supply. We remain absolutely committed to protecting the long-term viability of the Cape Fear River."

The law firms, Baron & Budd and Seagle Law, "will be investigating what the corporations knew and when they knew it," the county said in its release.


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