Monday, July 15, 2024

EPA reverses approval of GenX waste importation after DEQ found inaccurate information

Protestors outside Chemours’ open house. (Port City Daily/Amy Passaretti)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday the reversal of its authorization for Chemours to import millions of pounds of GenX waste. It sent a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper, who expressed his disapproval of the EPA’s decision earlier this month.

In the Nov. 29 letter to Gov. Cooper, EPA administrator Michael Regan noted the reversal was influenced by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s finding Chemours did not provide accurate information about export volume requested and the amount of GenX waste its Fayetteville facility could process. Regan wrote it was “different from a factor of ten from the amount the company had initially quoted” in its notification approved by the EPA.

“Because information in both notifications was incorrect, the September 8, 2023 consents to the import of waste from the Netherlands into the United States are no longer valid,” Regan wrote.

In a statement on the decision Wednesday, Chemours insisted its calculation error was “proactively disclosed to US regulators” and said the imported waste would be far below the amount approved in the initial permit. 

Chemours said its importation of GenX waste would be used for recycling; it argued this is more environmentally friendly than manufacturing new compounds. It claimed the recycled PFAS waste would not be discharged in the Cape Fear River.

The Sept. 8 EPA decision permitted Chemours to import more than 4 million pounds of GenX waste for recycle and reuse from the company’s Dordrecht, Netherlands facility, which is under criminal investigation. The waste would have been shipped to Chemours Fayetteville Works plant in Bladen County, North Carolina. The import was halted after public outcry and letters were sent to the EPA from Gov. Cooper, as well as local leaders from New Hanover and Brunswick counties.

Gov. Cooper issued a statement Wednesday commending the new EPA decision.

“It’s good that the EPA reversed this decision and I’m grateful for their quick response,” Cooper said in a statement Wednesday. “We have been working for years in North Carolina to force the cleanup of forever chemicals to help ensure clean water, and companies like Chemours have made this effort more difficult.”

The New Hanover Board of Commissioners similarly released a joint statement:

“This development is a significant victory for the environmental health and safety of New Hanover County and the Cape Fear River. We commend the EPA and NCDEQ for their diligent efforts and collaboration in making this critical decision, reflecting our shared commitment to protect our community.”

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis also released a statement Wednesday celebrating the EPA’s reversal.

“It is vital all North Carolinians have access to safe water, and I’ll continue my work to address the risks posed by emerging PFAS contaminants, just like we did with the historic clean water investment in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” he said.


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

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