Thursday, May 26, 2022

Chemours PFAS-reduction work may actually cause temporary spike, CFPUA monitoring levels

Chemours and CFPUA are monitoring levels of PFAS chemicals downriver form the Chemours plant in Greenville. Pictured is the Cape Fear River near downtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Chemours and CFPUA are monitoring levels of PFAS chemicals downriver from the Chemours plant in Greenville. Pictured is the Cape Fear River near downtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) has increased its sampling of raw water from the Cape Fear River after a manager from the Chemours Fayetteville Works plant admitted to sending an increased volume of sediment into the river.

While working on a system to remediate the amount of PFAS — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as ‘forever chemicals’ because of their inability to naturally break down once they are released into the environment — from entering the river, the spill has heightened concern for a spike of PFAS levels in the water.

CFPUA will conduct daily tests to determine if there are increased amounts of PFAS in the river due to the spill, according to a release from the public utility company on Thursday morning.

“As you know, pursuant to a Consent Order with the State of North Carolina and Cape Fear River Watch, Chemours, as part of its commitment to reduce PFAS loadings to the Cape Fear River, is constructing a system to capture and treat flow in a conveyance at its Fayetteville Works referred to as Old Outfall 002,” Chemours Environmental Manager Christel Compton wrote in an email to CFPUA on Wednesday night. “In connection with that construction, our consultants visually observed this afternoon an apparent increase in the quantity of sediments being carried from the mouth of Old Outfall 002 to the River.”

According to Compton, the company has ceased construction activity that took place Wednesday “that we believe may have contributed to this increase.”

“We do not know at this time whether any increase in sediments will also result in a short term increase in PFAS levels downstream. We initiated expedited sampling this evening to determine if a sediment increase has resulted in an increase in such PFAS levels. We will notify you of the results of that sampling,” Compton wrote.

In addition to sampling raw, untreated water Wednesday night, CFPUA has also sought guidance from state regulators at the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, according to the release.

The last time CFPUA published results from PFAS-level testing was on June 2.

“This sampling temporarily will be conducted daily, and updates will be provided as they become available. Analysis, which occurs at a contracted lab, typically takes two to three weeks,” according to the CFPUA.


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