Friday, February 3, 2023

Chemours settles permit appeal, agrees to comply with stricter PFAS reduction

Chemours filed an appeal last month for its recently approved discharge permit but agreed to settle when CFPUA intervened. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — A settlement has been reached regarding Chemours’ recently approved discharge permit, despite the Fayetteville Works company attempting to challenge its guidelines.

After the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality issued a new discharge permit, calling for 99.9% removal of PFAS from groundwater before it enters the Cape Fear River, Chemours submitted an appeal claiming it had only designed its system to achieve 99%.

READ MORE: CFPUA granted motion to intervene as Chemours challenges discharge permit

Following the appeal, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority submitted a motion to intervene in the litigation. An administrative law judge granted it Nov. 10.

Monday, the three entities — Chemours, NCDEQ and CFPUA — reached a settlement, which still requires the chemical company to follow the restrictions outlined in the permit.

The agreement does not change the final permit conditions and includes measures forcing Chemours to comply with the issued limits of pollutant discharge.

The permit, which applies to Chemours’ 1-mile barrier wall and associated granular activated carbon filtration system, goes into effect six months after the treatment system begins. Completed construction is required by March 2023 per the October 2020 consent order, signed by Chemours, NCDEQ and Cape Fear River Watch.

Based on this week’s settlement, Chemours also agreed to provide monthly reports on its progress during the six-month period and to dismiss its petition for appeal within five days.

To fulfill its permit requirement of 99.9% removal, Chemours has agreed to install additional equipment to enhance PFAS removal, including a fourth granular activated carbon filter.

The settlement document states if Chemours can prove that reaching 99.9% pollutant limits is not “technologically feasible,” the company may submit an application for a modification to the permit. However, it also states, NCDEQ is not required to agree to any modifications.

“The agreement recognizes Chemours’ position that compliance with the final limits cannot be assured until after the system is constructed and becomes operational,” according to a statement released by Chemours Tuesday. “By no later than seven months after system startup, Chemours will submit an updated operation and maintenance plan to DEQ incorporating the optimization procedures and technological improvements identified during the optimization period.”


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