Friday, August 12, 2022

Chemours to immediately halt GenX dumping

After thirty years, the release of GenX into the Cape Fear River – and local drinking water – may come to an end. (Port City Daily photo / FILE PHOTO)

Updated at 12:30 p.m.

WILMINGTON — In a press release to its investors, The Chemours Company announced it would immediately halt the release of GenX into the Cape Fear River.

The release denied that GenX was harmful. Nevertheless, it said abatement efforts would begin as soon as possible, on Wednesday, June 21.

The release in full:

The Chemours Company (Chemours) (NYSE: CC) today announced that it will capture, remove, and safely dispose of wastewater that contains the byproduct GenX generated from fluoromonomers production at its manufacturing plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Trace GenX amounts in the Cape Fear River to date have been well below the health screening level announced by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on June 12, 2017, and the company continues to believe that emissions from its Fayetteville facility have not impacted the safety of drinking water.  However, Chemours will take these additional steps, embracing its role as a significant employer and member of the community. The capture and removal of this wastewater will commence on June 21, 2017. This action complements the abatement technology already put in place at the Fayetteville site in 2013.

In a closed-door meeting last week, Mike Johnson, enviromental manager for Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility, stated that the chemical perfluoro-2-propoxypropanoic acid (PFPrOPrA) had been released as a byproduct of vinyl production since 1980 (the plant belonged to Dupont at the time). The chemical was later patented and branded “GenX,” and produced at a facility in Fayetteville. GenX is an important part of DuPont’s Teflon manufacturing process.

According to EPA regulations, Chemours is not allowed to dump GenX produced for Teflon into the water. But the EPA does not regulate GenX produced as unused waste in vinyl manufacturing. In last week’s meeting, Chemours representatives told local officials the company was not in violation of the law and would not stop dumping waste GenX into the Cape Fear River.

While “pleased” with Chemours announcement, New Hanover County Health Director Phillip Tarte released a statement Wednesday that the county “remain(s) dedicated to and support the state and federal investigations underway of our county’s drinking water and the Chemours Company.”

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality began water sampling at twelve locations along the Cape Fear River on Monday, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency launched an investigation into Chemours this week.

“New Hanover County public health officials will continue regular calls with state health officials to discuss the potential health effects of GenX and will keep the public informed of any new information,” a release from the county Health Department states.

The county has set up a webpage to keep residents up to date with the latest on GenX.

This story was updated on June 21 to include comments from the New Hanover County Public Health Department.

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