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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Update: EPA records incorrectly listed Kuraray, which makes CFPUA water filters, as producing carcinogen

Kuraray America, a chemical manufacturer that shares a wastewater pipe with Chemours at Fayetteville Works, announced its agreement to acquire Calgon Carbon in September 2017. CFPUA utilizes Calgon Carbon products in its water testing and has continued to do so even after the merger was consummated in March 2018.

The Japanese chemical manufacturer Kuraray America shares the same wastewater pipe with Chemours at Fayetteville Works. In March, Kuraray America purchased nearly 100 percent of Calgon Carbon’s outstanding shares following a merger filed through the SEC. CFPUA and Brunswick County  (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Google Maps)

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct inaccuracies about Kuraray America’s production of the carcinogen PFOA, known as C8.

Incorrect water pollution records maintained by the EPA have led to concerns over whether Kuraray is simultaneously producing the carcinogen C8 and also the filters the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority uses to remove it from the water. While the EPA has not responded to repeated questions, the evidence now indicates EPA records are incorrect.

In 2017, Port City Daily first reported on the EPA information, taken from the agency’s Facility Multi-Year Loading Report which indicated Kuraray was actively dumping C8 into the water. According to a Kuraray spokesperson, this has been an inaccuracy the company has worked to rectify.

While the EPA has never officially acknowledged the error, CFPUA stated they received a signed affidavit from Kuraray’s environmental specialist stating the company does not produce C8 or other related fluorinated chemicals.

Kuraray is also not part of the litigation brought by CFPUA against Kuraray. And, while Kurarary took over former DuPont facilities at the Fayetteville Works site, and shares a waste-water pipe with both DuPont and Chemours, Kuraray has not been cited by the DEQ and is not part of state action against Chemours.

The original article appears below.

SOUTHEASTERN, N.C. — Kuraray America, the company responsible for dumping a carcinogenic chemical into the Cape Fear River watershed, is also responsible for the sale of carbon filters used to remove that chemical from Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s drinking water.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) uses Calgon Carbon’s products in its efforts to monitor and filter chemicals, including the carcinogen known as Perfluorooctanoic acid, C8 or PFOA, out of the public water supply.

C8 or PFOA, is a carcinogenic substance that 3M, DuPont, and Chemours have all phased out; DuPont and Chemours paid $670 million to settle a lawsuit over illness linked to PFOA. Chemours would later develop the use of GenX as an alternative to PFOA. (Read more about that here.)

RELATED: Kuraray says EPA mistaken, someone else is dumping toxic PFOA

A billion-dollar chemical merger

In a United States Securities and Exchange Commission filing on March 5, Calgon Carbon and Kuraray America completed a merger. The merger had been planned since at least September 2017.

On Sept. 21, Kuraray America announced it had reached an agreement to acquire the activated carbon manufacturer for $1.1 billion in a “friendly takeover.” Though Kuraray America did not fully acquire Calgon Carbon, it purchased over 50 million shares of the company on March 9, resulting in nearly 100-percent ownership.

Kuraray America shares the same wastewater pipe with The Chemours Company at the Fayetteville Works plant. Both companies produce water contaminants that water utilities in southeastern areas of the state have been scrambling to filter out including GenX and other perfluorinated compounds.

In a July 10 Facebook post by Clean Cape Fear, the advocacy group shared the concern for Kuraray America to profit off the filtration of the toxin it releases into the water supply.

CFPUA knowledge

On May 9, CFPUA’s board unanimously approved a Sole Source Authorization, an agreement that authorized President Jim Flechtner to solicit and negotiate a contract with Calgon Carbon.

The board acknowledged Kuraray America’s recent acquisition of Calgon Carbon and its proximity to the Chemours Company while discussing whether or not to approve the agreement.

“I’m a little concerned about the optics of it,” CFPUA board member Kevin O’Grady said. “It’ll be another conspiracy theory out there.” 

Skip Watkins, a New Hanover County Commissioner and CFPUA board member, said the recent acquisition was an “unfortunate” coincidence.

“I felt a little better when I found out the acquisition is probably coincidental for lack of a better word,” Watkins said.

Though Kuraray America and The Chemours Company share a wastewater permit issued through the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the board was informed by its attorney that the chemical manufacturer had not been recently cited by the state.

“Their discharge does go through Chemours plant before it’s discharged into the river,” Linda Miles, an attorney with the Miles Company, said at the meeting. “The state has not cited that company at all.”

In November 2017, the DEQ issued an intent to revoke the wastewater permit that Chemours Company and Kuraray America share. However, the revocation did not apply “to process wastewater from Kuraray and Dupont facilities” treated and discharged by Chemours, according to the DEQ’s release.

Still, CFPUA’s board approved the Sole Source Authorization with Calgon Carbon. “It is certainly uncomfortable, but we think it’s in our best interest to move forward,” Flechtner said.

Kuraray America is listed in CFPUA’s federal lawsuit against Chemours as an operator at the Fayetteville Works facility, filed Oct. 16, 2017, after Kuraray’s announcement of its agreement to acquire Calgon Carbon.

According to CFPUA Spokeswoman Peg Hall-Williams, CFPUA is still in negotiations with Calgon Carbon over the price of the media replacement as of today.

Earlier this month, the state’s 2018 budget allocated $450,000 to CFPUA to be used in testing GenX and other emerging contaminants.

It is unclear whether state funds will be attributed to Kuraray America and Calgon Carbon to continue testing perfluorinated compounds in public water supply.

Send tips to Johanna Ferebee at or follow Johanna on Twitter @j__ferebee

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