CFPUA asks to join Chemours lawsuit as new, previously unknown PFAS identified in the water

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 recently identified previously unknown PFAS that may reach the Cape Fear River. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is contending that it should be granted equal standing in negotiations for a lawsuit against Chemours, in which the state is arguing that Chemours has allowed undue levels of PFAS into the drinking water of some New Hanover County residents. The request comes on the heels of news of additional, previously unknown PFAS in the Cape Fear River.

CFPUA said in a motion filed with the court this week that its officials were not consulted “about important proposals to address the burdens CFPUA and our community bear for Chemours’ contamination,” according to a press release from CFPUA. The press release said under an addendum to the state’s consent order, Chemours will have until 2025 to outline steps that will “result in significant reductions of PFAS entering the river from groundwater and stormwater runoff at its highly contaminated industrial site.”

The lawsuit, filed originally by the state, alleges that “the surface water into which the Chemours Facility discharges wastewater is used as a public water supply source that serves residents and businesses in several counties,” and also asserts that Chemours and its predecessor, DuPont, “knew for years that GenX and related compounds were being discharged into surface waters of the State.”


“The State has rightly insisted that Chemours pay for measures to provide safe drinking water for any owner of a private well near the Chemours site found to contain PFAS at concentrations of 10 parts per trillion (ppt) for any one compound or 70 ppt for the total of all PFAS. Deadlines for the steps Chemours must take for these well-owners are measured in days or months,” CFPUA stated in a release. “In contrast, CFPUA’s customers and others who rely on the Cape Fear River for their drinking water are told to wait years for promised PFAS reductions measured in percentages.”

As it has in the past, CFPUA noted that Chemours’ pollution has a direct financial impact on Wilmington-area residents. According to CFPUA, addressing PFAS filtration has meant upgrading its Sweeney Water Treatment Plant, and “the $43 million cost to build the enhancements, as well as the estimated $2.9 million to operate the additional filters each year, are being borne by CFPUA’s customers, not Chemours.”

CFPUA’s latest action comes local environmental groups, including Clean Cape Fear, are drawing attention to a study revealing additional, unknown PFAS-type chemicals that are being dumped into the Cape Fear.

BREAKING: Chemours completed their non-targeted analysis report required by the consent order. It found over 250+…

Posted by Clean Cape Fear on Tuesday, September 8, 2020

On June 30, Chemours released a report that hoped to provide more clarity on how their actions are affecting surrounding waters. The internal report found that 21 previously unidentified PFAS were collected at locations that may reach the Cape Fear River. In samples that came from process wastewater from Chemours manufacturing areas, there were 250 previously unknown PFAS found. 

Chemours addressed the findings in a statement:

Chemours submitted a PFAS non-targeted analysis interim report to NCDEQ in June pursuant to the Consent Order entered February 25, 2019 with North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Cape Fear River Watch. The purpose of the non-targeted analysis work is to identify unknown compounds and develop standards and methods for quantitative analysis of such compounds. Multiple sampling points at the Fayetteville Works site were used to collect samples, including from locations not currently discharging to the Cape Fear River. Our results estimated 20 compounds that were not previously identified in earlier studies from locations that may reach the Cape Fear River and 250 such compounds at non-discharge locations. As provided in the interim report, we are continuing to work to identify, and potentially confirm, molecular structures and analytical protocols.

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