Tuesday, October 4, 2022

DEQ directs Chemours to expand sampling in Cape Fear

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is still pushing for more from Chemours. After reviewing its Apr. 1 updated sampling and drinking water plan, in response to a Nov. 3 notice, NCDEQ determined Chemours must further expand its drinking water well sampling in New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick and Columbus counties. The state agency also is pushing for prioritization of specific testing areas.

Last fall, NCDEQ determined Chemours, the Fayetteville chemical plant found to be dumping toxic PFAS into the Cape Fear River, is also responsible for groundwater contamination in four downstream counties. It directed Chemours to submit an assessment plan for the groundwater in the affected areas, as it aligns with a February 2019 consent order. The notice required Chemours to develop a drinking water well sampling plan and provide alternate water for those with contamination.

After an extensive review of its resubmitted plan and a review of groundwater monitoring data in Brunswick, Pender and Columbus counties, NCDEQ has outlined additional steps the company must take:

  • Prioritize the identification and expedited sampling of private wells within 1/4-mile of public water distribution lines and sanitary sewer networks
  • Prioritize the identification and expedited sampling of private wells within 1/4-mile of the detections shown in NCDEQ’s monitoring data
  • Provide a detailed description of the representative sampling methodology, including justification for any exclusionary criteria
  • Provide a timeline to expeditiously complete sampling in the four counties
  • Increase reporting on the sampling activities from quarterly to monthly

NCDEQ will host a public meeting May 9 at 6 p.m. at UNCW’s Lumina Theatre to share sampling information and answer questions about well sampling in the Lower Cape Fear River. Attendees should park in visitor lot M (4941 Reigel Rd.).

The Division of Water Resources is also planning a public hearing on the draft discharge permit for a proposed treatment system at Chemours facility that would reduce PFAS entering the Cape Fear River by 99%. The Consent Order requires Chemours to install a 1-mile long, underground barrier wall alongside the river. The wall is intended to intercept contaminated groundwater before it reaches the river. A series of extraction wells will pump the captured groundwater into a treatment system.

The date of the public hearing has not yet been released. Additional information can be found here.


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