State environmental leaders say that Chemours will face additional enforcement actions following an unreported Oct. 6 discharge of a precursor chemical to GenX in the Cape Fear River.
The spill was discovered after an increase in the presence of GenX in the river identified through water quality sampling.
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) questioned Chemours officials about the elevated concentrations of GenX at Chemours’ primary wastewater discharge outfall after preliminary testing data from the Environmental Protection Agency became available, discovering the unreported Oct. 6 spill at the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility.
The company told DEQ that the spill occurred from a manufacturing line at the Chemours facility, telling state officials that dimer acid fluoride, a precursor chemical to GenX, had spilled during planned maintenance at the facility.
“We are determining all appropriate enforcement actions based on violations that have been committed, and we will continue to investigate and hold the company accountable,” DEQ Assistant Secretary Sheila Holman said.
At the state’s request, company officials provided the Chemours’ own preliminary test results from water samples collected at the facility outfall around the time of the spill, which showed concentrations of GenX at Chemours’ wastewater discharge outfall increasing to 250 parts per trillion on Oct. 6, and peaking at 3,700 parts per trillion on Oct. 9, three days after the spill.
The concentration at the outfall then dropped to 740 parts per trillion on Oct. 12, and 380 parts per trillion on Oct. 16.
The state established a health goal for GenX at 140 parts per trillion.
Prior to the spill, water samples collected between Oct. 2 and Oct. 5 show concentrations of GenX at Chemours’ wastewater discharge outfall between 35 and 69 parts per trillion.
It is unclear what enforcement actions the state will take against DEQ, but the news draws into question whether DEQ will revisit the decision not to take Chemours’ wastewater discharge permit after ordering the chemical company to cease dumping of GenX in September and began proceedings to take the discharge permit.
Oct. 24 Linda Culpepper, deputy director of the DEQ Division of Water Resources, sent a letter to the plant manger of the Fayetteville Works facility stating that after Chemours’ actions to address the state’s concerns in regards to GenX contamination, that it would not pull the facility’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, but said that the state would continue to monitor Chemours’ remedial measures.
The spill also calls into question the agreement reached between the state and Chemours on Sep. 8.
DEQ Communications Director Jamie Kritzer clarified that both the company’s NPDES permit and the partial consent agreement between the state and Chemours, approved in Bladen County Superior Court, are part of the investigation.
Chemours has not publicly addressed the most recent spill, and requests for comment were not returned as of press time.