Monday, April 22, 2024

Courts approve of local intervention in Chemours, EPA litigation

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SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — The courts ruled in favor of Cape Fear nonprofits and advocates to be included in a federal case regarding protections of local drinking water.

Chemours, a chemical company based 70 miles upstream from Wilmington, is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for its GenX health advisory released in June 2022. The Fayetteville Works company is claiming the EPA’s science is flawed and is asking the courts to review the assessment.

The EPA’s lifetime health advisory — not legally enforceable — sets the level of drinking water contamination below which adverse health effects are not expected to occur. It set those limits to 10 parts per trillion for GenX, a form of PFAS, produced by Chemours.

A group of concerned citizens and organizations decided to act in favor of the advisory. Asking to be heard in the case are Cape Fear River Watch, Center for Environmental Health, Clean Cape Fear, Democracy Green, Natural Resources Defense Council, North Carolina Black Alliance, Toxic Free North Carolina, Dr. Kyle Horton, Lacey Brown, Harper Peterson, Michael Watters and Debra Stewart.

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit approved the motion for them to intervene in litigation, despite EPA and Chemours being against it.

Judge Arianna Freeman issued the order: “Movants have met their burden to show a ‘sufficient interest in the litigation.’”

She also agreed the groups’ concerns may not be “adequately represented” by EPA and that the outcome of the case would affect them.

“We’ll be a strong voice for the importance of the advisory protecting N.C. communities and the strength of the science on which it’s based,” said Bob Sussman, attorney for the locals. “EPA will probably address these issues too, but we’ll be able to supplement and reinforce the case it makes to the court.”

Chemours has until March 20 to submit one brief in response to the motion being accepted for intervention. Following, EPA and the nonprofit group have 30 days to reply, due by April 19.

Chemours will then have 21 more days to reply to each of their statements. An oral argument will be set by the court at a future date.

Sussman said, based on the schedule, it’s unlikely a decision will be made before the end of the year.

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