State officials are saying that they believe elevated concentrations of GenX found at a water treatment facility along the Cape Fear River can be attributed to the Oct. 6 spill at the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility.
The elevated levels of GenX were discovered in water samples pulled from a water treatment facility down-river from the Fayetteville Works facility Oct. 6-12.
Additional tests at the Bladen Bluffs facility show the water levels dropping back below the state health goal of 140 parts per trillion, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality officials said.
“We will continue to hold Chemours accountable to ensure we’re doing everything possible to protect peoples’ drinking water,” DEQ Secretary Michael Regan said.
On Oct. 9, the same day that the GenX levels at the Fayetteville Works facility peaked at 3,700 parts per trillion, according to data received from Chemours, the level of GenX at the Bladen Bluffs facility was measured at 253 parts per trillion.
The latest data from the state showed a concentration of 695 parts per trillion at the Fayetteville Works wastewater discharge outfall on Dec. 9.
The wastewater discharge outfall is not a source of drinking water but the failure to report the spill led to the state moving to revoke Chemours’ permit to discharge wastewater into the river from its Fayetteville Works facility Nov. 16.
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.
Test results released this week measured concentrations of GenX, and related compounds, at Chemours’ wastewater discharge outfall and five drinking water treatment plants in the Lower Cape Fear. Concentrations of GenX were below the health goal in finished drinking water at International Paper, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, Northwest Brunswick and Pender County Utility water treatment plants. Levels for the related compounds were below the Environmental Protection Agency’s 70 parts per trillion health goal at all locations tested Oct. 6-12.
DEQ will continue to conduct water quality monitoring in the Cape Fear River and will release the results of testing as soon as they are available, officials said.
The release from DEQ however does not address a possible second leak indicated by a spike in GenX in the Cape Fear River seen in the testing data collected toward the end of October.
According to the release DEQ is investigating the cause of the spike in GenX found in data collected from Oct. 27 to Oct. 30 that showed a peak of 2,400 parts per trillion, dropping down to 290 parts per trillion over the following three days.
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,” Regan said. “The increased discharge of these fluorinated compounds reinforces the actions we’ve taken to revoke Chemours’ wastewater discharge permit.”
Chemours directed to provide bottled water to more families on private wells
DEQ also directed Chemours to begin providing water bottles to an additional 34 well owners near the Fayetteville Works facility after further private well testing showed GenX above the state’s provisional health goal in residential drinking wells.
Chemours is conducting the well testing at the direction of the state.
Currently there are 85 residential well owners receiving bottled water because of GenX detections above the provisional state health goal.
In mid-October, Chemours expanded its sampling to 450 parcels of land one mile from the facility’s property boundary.
Of those sampled, the state has verified results for 107 wells that were tested from Oct. 11 to Oct. 19.
“We will continue to demand sampling of private drinking wells so we can determine where the contamination ends and we will direct Chemours to continue providing bottled water to all residents using affected wells,” Regan said. “We realize, however, this is a short-term solution and we are already in discussions with local officials about providing residents a permanent source of clean drinking water source.”
DEQ officials have been in discussions with Bladen and Cumberland county officials to look for alternative water solutions, including digging deeper wells, installing water filters on homes or running water lines to residents whose wells tested above the state’s provisional drinking water health goal.