The NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced Thursday that it is moving to revoke Chemours’ permit to discharge processed wastewater after failing to report a GenX precursor spill into the Cape Fear River last month.
The spill at the Fayetteville Works facility was not reported within the 24-hour requirement, and in fact was not disclosed until water testing data from the Environmental Protection Agency became available showing a spike in GenX in the river. Chemours later admitted to the spill.
“It is unacceptable that Chemours has failed to disclose information required by law, information we need in order to protect the public,” DEQ Secretary Michael Regan said. “We’re taking action to suspend Chemours’ wastewater permit and moving to permanently revoke it because the company has repeatedly failed to follow the law.”
On Oct. 6, an undetermined amount of C3 Dimer Acid Fluoride for the facility’s Vinyl Ethers South Stack spilled onto the ground and over the next three days was washed into one of the facility’s outfalls and discharged into the Cape Fear River.
The timeline of events gives some explanation as to why the levels of GenX seen in the Cape Fear River, as recorded by Chemours and released to the state at its request, spiked on Oct. 9 and not directly following the spill.
Chemours’ own preliminary test results from water samples collected at the facility outfall around the time of the spill showed concentrations of GenX at Chemours’ wastewater discharge outfall increasing to 250 parts per trillion on Oct. 6, the day of the spill, and peaking at 3,700 parts per trillion on Oct. 9.
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.
DEQ is now moving to revoke the discharge permit as well as suspend Chemours’ permit to discharge process wastewater from its manufacturing area including the areas where GenX and other fluorinated compounds are produced.
The state said that it intends to revoke the permit after the required 60-day notice; though the suspension of Chemours’ allowance to discharge treated wastewater will go into effect Nov. 30.
Chemours will still be expected to remove the GenX-tainted waters to another state for disposal.
The revocation however does not apply to processed wastewater from Kuraray and Dupont facilities that is treated and discharged by Chemours under the wastewater discharge permit.
DEQ is including the State Bureau of Investigation in the probe to determine if there is any evidence of criminal violations from Chemours failing to report the spill, as required by law, or if the matter is merely a civil one.
Earlier this week, DEQ officially cited Chemours with violating the conditions of its wastewater discharge permit because of the company’s failure to report the spill.
The violations carry a maximum penalty of $25,000, per the notice of violations filed by DEQ Monday.
The filing lists two violations made at Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility, both having to do with the failure to report the spill and not the occurrence of the spill itself.
Chemours wastewater discharge permit requires that DEQ be notified within 24 hours of any discharge of significant amounts of waste that are abnormal in quantity or characteristic, as well as any non-compliance that potentially threatens public health or the environment.
DEQ will continue to collect and test water samples from the Cape Fear River, including the Fayetteville Works facility outfall.