Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Appeals court rejects local groups’ PFAS testing petition in 2-1 ruling

Local environmentalist groups expressed disappointment after a federal appeals court rejected their EPA petition for comprehensive PFAS testing in North Carolina, but plan to continue the years-long effort by other means.(Port City Daily photo/Johanna F. Still)

NORTH CAROLINA — Local environmentalist groups expressed disappointment after a federal appeals court rejected their EPA petition for comprehensive PFAS testing in North Carolina, but plan to continue the years-long effort by other means.

READ MORE: Amid ongoing lawsuit, NC groups dismayed by EPA’s private chemical industry workshop on PFAS testing

ALSO: Appeals Court casts doubt on district judge’s dismissal of local groups’ PFAS testing petition

Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Cape Fear, Toxic Free NC, and other groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency in 2022 for failing to fulfill their request to require Chemours fund testing of 54 PFAS compounds in North Carolina.

In March 2023, Judge Richard Myers II sided with EPA’s motion to dismiss the suit. The EPA argued it was already granting the groups’ request through its National PFAS Testing Strategy; the agency agreed to study the compounds as a group and assess their impact on human health.

The groups’ attorney, Bob Sussman, filed a notice of appeal shortly after. He argued the National PFAS Testing Strategy was slow moving and would fail to adequately test the Chemours-specific compounds.

The case was heard in January before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. Judges cast doubt the EPA was genuinely fulfilling the petition at the hearing, but ultimately ruled the agency’s testing plan would adequately grant the request.

“North Carolina communities deserve these health studies on the impacts from the polluted water they’ve been drinking for decades,” Toxic Free NC policy advocate Kendall Wimberley told PCD. “We have been proud to stand alongside the NC communities impacted by this injustice, and we will not stop fighting for strong and full implementation of TSCA and its reforms, which were intended to protect communities from harmful chemicals like PFAS.”

Clean Cape Fear founder Emily Donovan argued PFAS producing companies have too much influence on the EPA. She noted the EPA discussed its PFAS testing strategy at a private workshop with chemical industry representatives — including Chemours — in February.

“Ultimately, the EPA has the power to correct these human rights abuses,” she said.


Tips or comments? Email journalist Peter Castagno at peter@localdailymedia.com.

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