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DEQ Says Chemours’ Plan Needs Big Changes

RALEIGH – The state Department of Environmental Quality said Tuesday that Chemours’ proposed plan to clean up groundwater and soil and reduce discharges of contaminants from its Bladen County site isn’t good enough.

Citing inadequacies, DEQ announced Tuesday it will require extensive revisions to the DuPont spinoff company’s proposed plan submitted Dec. 31 for corrective actions for years of releases of per- and polyfluorinated substances, or PFAS. The company has been operating since February 2019 under a special Consent Order requiring a corrective action plan that adheres to state groundwater rules.

“The proposed plan is clearly deficient and fails to address the fundamental purposes of a corrective action plan,” DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan said in a statement. “Chemours will not receive approval from this department until they address appropriate cleanup measures for the communities impacted by the contamination and meet the terms of the Consent Order.”

A spokesperson for Chemours provided the following statement Tuesday in response to DEQ’s announcement: “Chemours feels strongly the Corrective Action Plan is robust and in full compliance with the environmental laws of North Carolina and the approved 2019 Consent Order. We are surprised and disappointed by the NCDEQ’s public statement given they have not yet provided Chemours with comment on the plan. We look forward to learning the details behind their comments.”

The plan was supposed to address groundwater and soil remediation and significantly reduce PFAS flowing from onsite groundwater into surface water. The plan was also required to adhere to DEQ’s groundwater rules.

DEQ said that based on initial review, the company’s proposed plan “lacks a thorough technical basis, including an adequate assessment of human exposure to PFAS compounds and a thorough evaluation of on- and off-site groundwater contamination.”

DEQ said the plan does not provide for appropriate remediation of on-site groundwater or off-site contamination.

In addition to internal review, DEQ said the public review of the plan Jan. 6 to April 6 yielded more than 1,240 comments, with most saying Chemours’ proposed plan was insufficient.

DEQ’s announcement follows criticism from environmental advocates over the proposed plan.

Geoff Gisler, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center’s North Carolina office, said Chemours polluted 45,000 acres of groundwater with PFAS, contaminating public water supplies for decades and is avoiding doing what’s needed to protect people and communities.

“Chemours must put the health of North Carolinians living near the facility, the Cape Fear River, and downstream communities ahead of its bottom line,” Gisler said earlier this month.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.