The state Division of Air Quality (DAQ) on Friday announced results from rainwater testing that confirmed that GenX is being transferred through the air from its Fayetteville Works facility and dumped on the ground in precipitation.
DAQ reported great variance in the concentration of GenX in the rainfall ranging from 5.2 parts per trillion to 630 parts per trillion on Jan. 28-29 and 9.98 parts per trillion to 286 parts per trillion on Feb. 4-5 but the most significant revelation from the testing seems to be the confirmation that the compound is airborne in the region.
“These findings lend weight to our belief that airborne GenX contributes to contamination of private wells and lakes near Chemours’ facility,” Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Michael Regan said. “We will continue to take any appropriate action that is necessary to protect the public health.”
Chemours has already been ordered to provide bottled water to 115 families that have wells for drinking water that have tested positive for GenX in the testing area surrounding the Chemours facility but if rain water is contributing to the well contamination that number could grow.
DAQ officials said that while the state health goal for GenX is 140 parts per trillion for drinking water and that value should not be compared to rainwater concentrations as the latter is not intended for direct consumption.
The detection of GenX in rainwater follows a Feb. 12 notice of violation citing Chemours for failure to take action to terminate or control sources of contamination and mitigate onsite hazards as ordered by the state.
The notice of violation directed Chemours to take immediate measures to mitigate any hazards at the Bladen County facility resulting from exposure to GenX and other pollutants, including reducing or eliminating air emissions.
When rain occurs, Chemours will cover the cost of weekly analysis of rainwater from the four DEQ sampling sites near the facility.
DAQ collected the first two rainwater samples at 10 temporary testing sites located 0.9 to 2.9 miles from the middle of the two production facilities at Chemours.
The sites were not chosen to correlate with separate private well testing; rather, they were positioned at eight perimeter spots on public land and at one private residence with the owner’s permission, with one additional site located nearly 3 miles northwest.
Using detailed forecasts developed by division meteorologists, DEQ placed the sampling containers at the sites about an hour before rain started and collected the samples within hours of the rain ending.
DAQ staff transported samples to SGS North America Inc., a private lab in Wilmington and samples were also sent to the Environmental Protection Agency lab in Athens, Georgia, for further analysis.
DEQ is analyzing meteorological data to factor in potential impacts of wind direction and velocity, as well as precipitation rates.
DAQ, on Jan. 2, ordered Chemours to begin conducting onsite rainwater sampling and analysis, the data from which will be made available to the public when the analysis is complete.