News: Quick Takes

Judge approves GenX consent order; Chemours to speed cleanup

The Fayetteville Works complex, including the Chemours facility. (Satellite image from Google Maps)
The Fayetteville Works complex, including the Chemours facility. (Satellite image from Google Maps)

Bladen County Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser approved a consent order Monday holding the Chemours chemical manufacturer accountable for release of GenX and other PFAS emerging contaminants which have polluted the Cape Fear River Basin and surrounding groundwater.

“Today’s ruling means real relief for people who have wondered for too long when the pollution in their water would be properly addressed by Chemours,” state Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan said in a news release.

“This ruling provides a clear timeline and certainty for the people of the Cape Fear River Basin,” Regan said.

The consent order provides a regulatory framework, oversight, and transparency for operators requiring the Chemours Fayetteville Works Plant to:

  • Report air emissions of GenX compounds monthly.
  • Measure and analyze Chemours’ contribution to PFAS contamination at downstream public utilities’ raw water intakes.
  • Submit an analysis of PFAS contamination in river sediment.
  • Remove 99 percent of the contamination of the surface water and groundwater from an old outfall at the site.
  • Provide downstream public utilities a plan to reduce PFAS contamination faster in the Cape Fear River.
  • Provide systems to treat drinking water fountains and sinks in public buildings.
  • Ensure that filtration systems are operating properly and are maintained for a minimum of 20 years.

“We are committed to working with DEQ, Cape Fear River Watch, and the Southern Environmental Law Center to deliver on the emissions control and remediation commitments contained in the order,” Chemours spokeswoman Lisa Randall said in a statement for the company.  

“The more than $100 million investment in state-of-the-art emission control technology and remediation activity we have underway will deliver a 99 percent or greater reduction in air and water emissions of all PFAS compounds by the end of this year.  We will continue to demonstrate our progress in a transparent way as we know that actions are far more powerful than words.”

GenX is part of a family of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances commonly known as PFAS.

Hundreds of known PFAS substances are used in hundreds of chemical processes and consumer products. There are many more similar substances environmental regulators haven’t identified. Research suggests they may be linked to cancer and a host of other illnesses.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its PFAS national action plan Feb. 14. The action plan was designed, in part, from information gathered at a series of public listening sessions, including an August 2018 event in Fayetteville.