State officials on Tuesday ordered Chemours to stop releasing all fluorinated compounds into the Cape Fear River and began legal action against the company in response to the GenX issue.
The Cape Fear River is used as a water source for drinking water in the Cape Fear River region.
The state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) also began the process to suspend the company’s permit for discharging wastewater into the Cape Fear River.
The State of North Carolina initiated a lawsuit in Bladen County against Chemours to seek injunctive relief to address environmental contamination caused by the release of pollutants from Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility.
“Protecting people’s drinking water is our top priority, and we’ve put Chemours on notice that it must stop discharging these chemicals into the Cape Fear River immediately,” DEQ Secretary Michael Regan said. “Chemours must stop releasing all fluorinated compounds and fully disclose all chemicals in its waste stream, and we’re taking action to make sure that happens.”
The state also sent a pair of letters to Chemours, the first giving notice of the lawsuit, which says that DEQ has reasonable cause to believe that Chemours is violating state law in regards to dumping pollutants in the Cape Fear River.
The second letter, sent to Chemours’ plant manager Ellis McGaughy, said that the state intends to suspend Chemours’ permit in 60 days based on criteria that requires full disclosure of any and all relevant facts pursuant to the issuance of a permit.
The letter said, “Based on our review of the history in NPDES Permit NC0003573 for the Chemours Fayetteville Works, there is sufficient cause to suspend the Permit under the provisions cited in this letter. We have found no evidence in the permit file indicating that Chemours or DuPont (Chemours’ predecessor) disclosed the discharge to surface water of GenX compounds at the Fayetteville Works.”
The letter went on to say that the information that was provided by DuPont and Chemours led state officials to believe that no discharge of GenX had occurred and in 2010 at a meeting discussing the GenX fluid replacing the perflourinated compound PFOA previously in use, it was the state’s understanding that the GenX compound would be contained in a closed loop and would not result in discharge into the water.
The letter also says that Chemours, nor DuPont, provided any health studies on the GenX compounds.
The letter does leave the door open for Chemours to continue discharging wastewater from the Fayetteville Works facility, if all of the letters’ requirements are met.
Chemours must prevent to discharge of GenX into the river, by Sept. 8 cease dumping the two additional chemicals discovered in a recent North Carolina State University study into the river, cease dumping any other perflourinated or polyflourinated compound into the river without an effluent permit, and also provide a complete response to all of the state’s outstanding requests for information.
Due to pressure from outside bodies and concerned citizens Chemours suspended dumping of the GenX chemical in June, and since then concentrations of the chemical in the Cape Fear River have decreased below the health goal of 140 parts per trillion.