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Consent order would make chemical plant reduce emissions

Posted November 21, 2018 8:02 p.m. EST
Updated November 21, 2018 9:29 p.m. EST

— State environmental officials have obtained a consent order which calls on a North Carolina chemical plant to reduce emissions of a compound and pay a $12 million civil penalty.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality said in a news release Wednesday the order requires Chemours to reduce GenX air emissions and provide permanent replacement drinking water supplies.

In addition to the civil penalty, the order calls for Chemours to pay an additional $1 million for investigative costs. Additional penalties will apply if Chemours fails to meet the conditions and deadlines established in the order.

“This agreement is an example of how industry can work with stakeholders at the local and state level to address these concerns,” said Paul Kirsch, president of Chemours’ fluoroproducts business unit. “We are committed to operating with transparency and a bedrock commitment to a sustainable future. We intend to live up to our commitments with actions not just words,” he added.

Attorneys for the environmental agency said in a lawsuit that a months-long investigation by DEQ found Chemours contaminated the state's air, surface water and groundwater through its release of GenX.

Among the order’s provisions, accord to the DEQ, are requirements that the company:

  • Provide permanent drinking water supplies from either a public water connections or whole building filtration systems for those with drinking water wells with GenX above 140 parts per trillion, the state’s current health goal for the chemical, or a future applicable health advisory.
  • Provide, install and maintain three under-sink reverse osmosis drinking water systems for well owners with combined PFAS levels above 70 parts per trillion or any individual PFAS compound above 10 parts per trillion.
  • Cut out nearly all air emissions of GenX, believed to be responsible for the chemicals presence in the rain and soil, by the end of 2019.
  • Continue to capture all processed wastewater from its operations at the facility for off-site disposal until a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is issued that authorizes discharge of that wastewater.
  • Conduct health studies to determine potential health risks associated with the release of PFAS compounds.
  • Sample drinking water wells at least one-quarter mile beyond the closest well that had PFAS levels above 10 parts per trillion as well as annually retest wells that were previously sampled.

Comments on the proposed order will be accepted until Dec. 21 and can be emailed to comments.chemours@ncdenr.gov or mailed to the Assistant Secretary's office, RE: Chemours public comments, at 1601 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699.