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Sunday, May 26, 2024

‘Hold Chemours accountable’: Brunswick sends letter on GenX import concerns to EPA

The EPA authorized Chemours Fayetteville Works Plant in Bladen County to receive millions of pounds in GenX imports from a Dutch company under criminal investigation.

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — The Environmental Protection Agency recently authorized Chemours to import millions of pounds of GenX from a Dutch company under criminal investigation. Commissioners of Brunswick County — found by one national study to have the worst PFAS contamination among 44 municipalities — voiced their concerns about the decision Wednesday in a letter to administrator Michael Regan.

READ MORE: EPA authorizes 4M pounds of GenX to be imported to NC from overseas

“Brunswick County residents, like all North Carolina and U.S. residents, deserve access to clean drinking water,” Chair Randy Thompson wrote in the letter. “All residents who source their water from the Cape Fear River and a growing number of residents who source their water from drinking water wells are affected by Chemours’ pollution and have yet to see the company fulfill NCDEQ’s 2019 Consent Order.”

On Sept. 8, the EPA sent a letter to Chemours permitting the import of more than 4 million pounds of GenX from the company’s Dordrecht, Netherlands facility to the Chemours Fayetteville Works plant in Bladen County, North Carolina through Sept. 6 2024.

The approval follows a class action lawsuit filed last month by Dutch criminal attorney Bénédicte Ficq against DuPont and its spinoff Chemours; the suit alleges the companies’ executives knowingly caused decades of PFAS pollution.

The Fayetteville plant will use the imported GenX for “recycle and reuse.”

Thompson, writing on behalf of the board of commissioners, noted Chemours’ previous improper GenX waste disposal is still present in the Cape Fear River. The Fayetteville Works’ barrier wall, to capture contamination, was completed in June — months after the consent order mandated.

Thompson said weekly PFAS tests performed at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant show the prevalence of PFAS compounds in the county is still high. He argued insufficient time has passed to ensure the wall is effectively preventing PFAS from entering the river.

The commissioners urged the EPA to guarantee Chemours “has significantly reduced the amount of PFAS entering the Cape Fear River before allowing more PFAS into the state.”

The chair included a list of county recommendations in the letter, such as including the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality in future PFAS authorizations and to “hold Chemours accountable to future changes to health advisory levels or maximum contaminant levels.”

NCDEQ was not made aware of EPA’s decision to import GenX, nor did it have any say in the matter.

The letter argued Chemours’ actions have already unfairly burdened the county’s taxpayers and water customers; construction on the Northwest Water Treatment Plant’s low-pressure reverse osmosis facility — plagued by years of delays — has already cost $24,229,190. Thompson said the county has issued a total of $167.3 million in revenue bonds for the facility.

He also noted GenX and other PFAS compounds have been found in private wells used by county residents. A study by the National Resources Defense Council found significant amounts of 12 PFAS compounds excluded from EPA testing methods in the county.

The letter can be read in full here.


Tips or comments? Email journalist Peter Castagno at peter@localdailymedia.com.

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