WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - An organization that specializes in environmental protection has started an investigation of Chemours, the company allegedly responsible for discharging an unregulated toxin into the Cape Fear River.
The Southern Environmental Law Center, a non-profit legal group, is particularly interested in Chemours' water quality permit, which the SELC said is expired.
In an email sent to WECT on Friday afternoon, Derb Carter, the SELC's North Carolina offices director, said, "We do not know why the permit was not renewed before it expired. We will determine whether the company is in compliance with its water quality permit, and state and federal law, and whether the permit authorizes the discharge of GenX."
GenX is the chemical that Chemours admitted to discharging into the wastewater at its Fayetteville plant. On Tuesday, Chemours said it was planning to remove all wastewater containing GenX beginning Wednesday.
Carter said his office received numerous requests from citizens in the lower Cape Fear region who are concerned about their drinking water after the detection of GenX in the water was made public. Those residents "have questions about the source of the GenX in the river, the regulation of the source, and ultimately the safety of their drinking water," Carter said in the email.
"We have requested and are examining water quality permit files for Chemours, which has an expired permit to discharge wastewater into the Cape Fear River, and appears to be the source of the GenX," Carter added. "The company is discharging under its required water quality permit, which it is allowed to do if it timely applies for a renewal."
The SELC said Chemours' plan to remove wastewater containing GenX is just part of what should be required of the company.
"It is important that this commitment be included as an enforceable requirement in its overdue water quality permit renewal for its facility," Carter said. "This would be accomplished by an effluent limitation of zero for GenX in its new permit, with monitoring requirements that are adequate to assure compliance."