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DEQ Seeks OK for More PFAS Remediation

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality filed in court Tuesday a proposed addendum to the 2019 consent order under which the company is allowed to discharge pollutants, placing new requirements on Chemours to take additional steps to prevent GenX and other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, from entering the Cape Fear River through contaminated groundwater from its Fayetteville Works Site.

The motions hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday in Elizabethtown at Bladen County Superior Court.

The addendum, which was filed after the public comment period ended Sept. 17, requires Chemours to install extensive remediation systems in two phases for the contaminated groundwater reaching the river.

Chemours is also required to treat onsite stormwater with a capture and treatment system that must remove at least 99% of PFAS that is currently discharged to the river. Failure to meet the schedules or achieve the removal goals set out in the addendum will result in financial penalties.

“We will continue to apply pressure to this company to take responsibility for their actions. These necessary actions under the Consent Order will expand the relief provided to communities along the Cape Fear River by controlling the PFAS contamination at its source,” said DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan. “At the same time, DEQ continues to support state and community leaders’ efforts on additional strategies to address the downstream impact of the contamination from Chemours.”

Also, on Wednesday, NCDEQ filed a response opposing Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s motion to intervene in the state’s enforcement against Chemours. According to the response, this is the authority’s third motion to intervene.

CFPUA requested last month Bladen County Superior Court grant the authority equal standing with the state and Cape Fear River Watch regarding measures Chemours must take to address the company’s PFAS releases, including contamination in the drinking water of CFPUA’s customers. CFPUA’s  motion to intervene was filed with the court Sept. 9.

“We believe all North Carolina residents, including our customers, deserve equal treatment and protection,” CFPUA Executive Director Jim Flechtner said in a statement. “We have made this point consistently over the past several months. Clearly, the best way to obtain equitable treatment for CFPUA’s customers and our community is for us to be at the negotiating table.”

In response, DEQ wrote that the state objects to CFPUA’s efforts to pursue those interests at the expense of all those who depend on the Cape Fear River by having the entire consent order between DEQ, Cape Fear River Watch and Chemours declared unlawful.

“There are critical pollution reduction measures at stake that would benefit all communities along the Cape Fear River. We support CFPUA’s effort to further protect their customers; however, we cannot simply throw out all the progress achieved under the Consent Order,” said Regan. “We’ve made it clear that the Consent Order is one component of the broader approach to address the PFAS contamination by Chemours. DEQ continues to support additional strategies by the drinking water utilities, the communities, and the Attorney General to fully address downstream impacts.”

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Staff Report

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