Since 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has allowed DuPont to continue to manufacture GenX in its Chemours Fayetteville Works plant, so long as the plant captures and destroys or recycles 99% of GenX emissions.
However, up until the end of June 2017, the EPA made no inspections to ensure the plant was in compliance with this agreement. The EPA regional Atlanta office claims they were not aware of the 2009 consent order. According to a May 2020 Star News Online article:
“Region 4 personnel informed us that they do not know all the headquarters-negotiated consent orders within their region,” the inspector general report says. “In fact, they did not know about the 2009 consent order with Chemours until the inspection was requested.”
However, recent inspections of the plant by the EPA show no violations of the consent order at the Fayetteville Works plant. Chemours says it ended intentional discharge of GenX into the Cape Fear in 2019. Since then, the company has built a thermal oxidizer to extract GenX emissions before they reach the atmosphere. Additionally, the company has provided bottled water and filter systems to some residents who have been affected by GenX contamination.
PFAS Contamination Still an Issue
Recent studies showed raw water supplies for at least 150 public utilities in North Carolina contained some level of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including GenX. The threshold for what constitutes a “dangerous” level of PFAS contamination is widely disputed. Currently, there is no federal regulation for these compounds. According to a July 2020 NC Policy Watch article:
The [North Carolina] state health department has set an provisional goal of 140 ppt for GenX. The EPA has set a recommended threshold of 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOS combined. And NC DEQ has stated that no one should drink water with levels of any individual PFAS above 10 ppt.
A recent NC State and ECU study conducted on Wilmington residents showed the community’s battle with PFAS is far from over. A July 2020 article posted by NC State said:
Ten PFAS were found in most of the blood samples. Three of these were the fluoroethers Nafion byproduct 2, PFO4DA and PFO5DoA, all of which were detected in over 85% of samples. Two other fluoroethers, PFO3OA and NVHOS, were infrequently detected.
Nearly all the samples collected had at least on fluoroether present. GenX, however, was not present in any of the samples.
August 2020 Information Meeting
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) is hosting a community information session regarding the current actions to prevent and remediate PFAS contamination by the Chemours Fayetteville Plant. The conference will be held August 4th at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. A July 2020 Robesonian article says:
Topics will include updates on actions pertaining to the February 2019 Consent Order, drinking water well sampling results and updates from the divisions of Waste Management, Air Quality and Water Resources. Officials from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services will discuss the Community Involvement Plan.
Interested individuals can participate by calling US TOLL +1-415-655-0003. The access code is 161 074 7124.
To participate online go to https://ncdenrits.webex.com/ncdenrits/onstage/g.php? The event password is GenX804
Community members who would like to ask questions or provide comments can pre-register by completing the form at https://bit.ly/32HIRmE, by sending an email with name to email@example.com and put “August 4 public information meeting” in the subject line, or by leaving a voicemail with name and phone number at 919-707-8233.
Following the presentations, pre-registered community members will have an opportunity to ask questions.
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.