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Court Approves GenX Cleanup Addendum

This graphic shows sources of PFAS in drinking water. Illustration: PFAST Network

The proposed addendum to the 2019 consent order under which Chemours is permitted to discharge pollutants was approved in a state court Monday, requiring the manufacturer to take more actions to reduce per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, from entering the Cape Fear River from its Fayetteville Works site.

The addendum under the consent order requires Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility to stop 99% of GenX and other PFAS from entering the Cape Fear River, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center, which negotiated the agreement on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Chemours.

Bladen County Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser approved the agreement that went into effect Monday, immediately after approval. The judge entered the addendum in its entirety that requires Chemours to take accelerated actions to prevent PFAS pollution from onsite groundwater, small streams and stormwater from reaching the Cape Fear River and downstream drinking water supplies.

“Today’s ruling means downstream communities will see continued improvements in water quality. These are necessary actions that protect everyone downstream who depends on the Cape Fear River. The addendum builds on the success of the Consent Order, requiring Chemours to deal with the residual contamination from their years of pollution,” DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan said in a statement. “The Consent Order is one component of the broader effort to hold Chemours accountable. DEQ continues to support state and community leaders’ efforts on additional strategies to address the downstream impact of the contamination from Chemours.”

Combined with the 2019 consent order’s requirement that Chemours reduce its pollution from air emissions by 99.99% and from a large onsite stream by at least 99%, the agreement ensures that pollution from every other significant pathway of PFAS contamination from the Chemours’ Fayetteville Works Facility to the Cape Fear River is reduced by at least 99%, according to SELC.

“The consent order is keeping a significant part of Chemours’ PFAS pollution out of the Cape Fear River today,” said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney at the SELC. “With the controls required by the addendum, the PFAS levels in the river will drop dramatically over the next year.”

PFAS is a class of thousands of synthetic chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, and GenX and is associated with serious health impacts.

“We’re very pleased with the court’s decision to accept the addendum,” said Dana Sargent, executive director of the Cape Fear River Watch in a statement. “With the consent order, this addendum will ensure that the main sources of Chemours’ pollution are stopped as quickly as possible—making the river safer for all downstream communities.”

Next, the company must resubmit a corrective action plan to ensure that contaminated groundwater is cleaned up and communities near the facility are protected. Chemours’ previous corrective action plan submittal was rejected by DEQ in April.

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Staff Report

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