State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) officials are investigating a significant spike in GenX concentration in the water near the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility that may be connected to the unreported Oct. 6 GenX spill.
Testing from Oct. 27 and Oct. 30 at an outfall by the facility showed a concentration of 2,400 parts per trillion, significantly more than the state’s health goal of 140 parts per trillion.
DEQ Communications Director Jamie Kritzer said that DEQ has directed Chemours to investigate whether storm water in the facility property is contaminated with GenX to ascertain whether or not the most recent spike is attributable to the Oct. 6 spill.
”DEQ directed Chemours to do additional storm water assessment at the facility,” Kritzer said. “We are assessing the storm water on the facility property to determine if the exceedances of Genx were caused by storm water that ran off.”
DEQ officials are thinking that there may have been additional rain events at the facility that allowed more GenX to flow into the river over the possibility of a second unreported leak, though DEQ is looking into several possibilities.
Kritzer said that when questioned about a possible second leak Chemours reported that there were no further leaks.
Chemours reports that the flow of wastewater coming out of the facility when the samples were collected could have contributed to the higher concentration of GenX in the water sampled.
Last week DEQ Secretary Michael Regan said, “This increase in GenX levels is alarming
Last week DEQ Secretary Michael Regan said, “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. The increased discharge of these fluorinated compounds reinforces the actions we’ve taken to revoke Chemours’ wastewater discharge permit.”
The state is already moving to revoke Chemours’ wastewater discharge permit and suspended the permit on 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. 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.
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.