The State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is investigating a possible second GenX leak in October after water quality testing data from the end of October showed a significant spike in GenX concentration in the water near the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility.
The water showed a concentration of 2,400 parts per trillion from samples collected at the outfall by the Chemours’ facility between Oct. 27 and Oct. 30, and then a reduction to 290 parts per trillion for water collected from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.
The spike and quick decrease looks similar to the data provided by Chemours, a subsidiary of DuPont, that showed a spike in the days following the unreported Oct. 6 spill that was discovered more than a month later.
Chemours’ own preliminary test results showed that the water collected at the river by Chemours’ wastewater discharge outfall increased to 250 parts per trillion on Oct. 6, the day of the spill, and peaked at 3,700 parts per trillion on Oct. 9, following heavy rain washing the compound into the river.
“This increase in GenX levels is alarming and we are demanding answers from the company so we can safeguard water for the people of North Carolina,” DEQ Secretary Michael Regan said. “The increased discharge of these fluorinated compounds reinforces the actions we’ve taken to revoke Chemours’ wastewater discharge permit.”
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.
The state is already moving to revoke Chemours’ wastewater discharge permit and will suspend the permit Nov. 30, while the revocation proceedings move forward.
Concentrations of GenX at Chemours’ wastewater discharge outfall in Fayetteville exceeded the state’s provisional drinking water health goal, established at 140 parts per trillion, and the state has demanded answers from Chemours as to how the GenX got into the river.
While the Cape Fear River is not a source of drinking water in that area, water treatment facilities downriver have been warned about the increased GenX levels.
Before Thanksgiving the state had already cited Chemours for failing to report the spill, which is required within 24 hours of the spill occurring, and moved to pull the facility’s permit to discharge wastewater.
“It is unacceptable that Chemours has failed to disclose information required by law, information we need in order to protect the public,” 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.”
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.
In addition to the DEQ investigation the State Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the issue 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.
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.