Since our last article, “PFAS Levels in Cape Fear Remain Largely the Same, Despite Emission Cuts“, the Cape Fear region continues to experience high levels of “forever chemicals” in their water supply. Despite requests for additional PFAS testing, no additional regulations have been put in place.
As mentioned in previous articles, the main offender for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination is the Chemours Co. Fayetteville Works Plant. Many chemicals, including GenX, were discharged into the Cape Fear River. Research found the PFAS chemicals in high levels both in groundwater and air emissions.
PFAS Testing Petition Denied
A recent October 2020 petition requiring Chemours to fund testing by independent scientists on 54 PFAS chemicals produced by its Fayetteville Works plant has been denied by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The petition called for the EPA to use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to fund the testing.
According to a January 2021 article written for the Coastal Review entitled “EPA Denies Petition to Address PFAS“, the petition was denied due to “insufficient information”:
The EPA includes as reasons for denial that the petition does not set forth the facts necessary to demonstrate that there is “insufficient information and experience” for each of the 54 PFAS and failed to address ongoing testing and data collections for some of the 54 PFAS.
The same article later goes on to explain the EPA has already taken action to remedy the PFAS contamination issue in their February 2019 PFAS Action Plan:
“The PFAS Action Plan is the first multi-media, multi-program, national research, management, and risk communication plan to address an emerging contaminant like PFAS,” according to the EPA. The action plan details how the EPA will address PFAS in drinking water, identify and clean up contamination, expand monitoring, increase scientific research, and exercise effective enforcement tools. The EPA updated the plan in February 2020 with actions taken and work completed in the year since the PFAS Action Plan was issued.
Why PFAS Testing is Essential
According to the Center of Environmental Health, exposure to PFAS chemicals can lead to serious health problems. Furthermore, the Center of Environmental Health expands on this in a January 2021 article for the Coastal Review, “EPA Denies Petition to Address PFAS“:
As a result of decades of pollution, these substances have been found in human blood, drinking water, groundwater, soil, air, and locally produced food adjacent to and downstream from the plant. They pose serious health risks to nearly 300,000 people in impacted communities…
Exposure can lead to cause cancer, thyroid disease, birth defects, hormone disruption, decreased fertility, immune system suppression, and other serious health effects, Center of Environmental Health said.
Additionally, according to the same article, the EPA does not deny PFAS contamination should be of great concern to the public. The EPA reiterated their commitment to understanding PFAS and reducing its risks to the public. However, this answer is not sufficient for all. The Center of Environmental Health criticizes the EPA’s decision, saying:
EPA’s petition denial does not dispute the serious health effects concerns associated with PFAS or the extensive contamination of the Cape Fear River basin caused by Chemours. Instead, it seeks to justify its refusal to require testing with a self-serving recitation of its actions on PFAS generally — actions which have been widely criticized as ineffective and inadequate…[By] poking small holes in the petition and blowing them out of proportion, the Agency [EPA] also claims that petitioners failed to demonstrate that there is insufficient information available to assess the health impacts of the 54 PFAS.
We will continue to observe the GenX situation and deliver information on any new findings or resolutions. To learn more about the background and specifics of GenX, you can visit our law firm’s website pages:
- GenX Cancers Overview
- Summary of Information
- Timeline: GenX Contamination of the Cape Fear River
- Timeline: GenX Study Results
- GenX: Cancer Evaluation Form
Written by: Lauren Schwab, Legal Assistant
Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A.