WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - CFPUA News Release
Mike Brown, CFPUA Board chairman, will provide two daily updates—one morning and one afternoon—with information on activity surrounding GenX. Updates will be provided each weekday. Below please find Chairman Mike Brown's afternoon update regarding the CFPUA Board internal review, and the CFPUA's next steps.
1. During a Special Meeting today, the CFPUA Board received an update on the internal review conducted by Robin Smith, an environmental attorney and former assistant secretary for the environment for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (now NCDEQ), and Jennifer Adams, a chemical engineer and CFPUA Board co-chair.
The scope of the review included an assessment of CFPUA's involvement in the NCSU study, CFPUA staff communication about the study, and an evaluation of the appropriateness of CFPUA's response. Reviewers sifted through reams of reports, emails and data, and also conducted interviews.
As context for the actions taken by staff, reviewers defined the responsibilities of regulatory authorities that are tasked with establishing standards for drinking water and further defined the permitting process.
The EPA, the agency tasked with establishing drinking water standards, began studying effects of perfluorinated chemicals like PFOA and PFOS more than fifteen years ago. These chemicals posed a health risk, and they were phased out. However, companies started using replacement compounds for these chemicals over the last five to 10 years.
While the EPA has adopted water standards for nearly 90 contaminants, standards do not exist for many compounds used in manufacturing or produced as a by-product of industrial activities.
PFAS, like GenX, are not on the EPA's list of priority toxic pollutants.
In the absence of an existing EPA limit, the state permit writer can set a limit based upon professional judgement.
Water treatment standards are regulated and set by DEQ and EPA, with CFPUA's core responsibility to ensure those standards are met. Our water meets or exceeds these standards.
EPA and DEQ regulate water quality impacts on the river including standards and wastewater discharge limit.
EPA and DEQ regulate drinking water systems, research health risks, and develop drinking water rules.
Water systems, like CFPUA, operate under those drinking water rules by regularly monitoring the water, treating the water, and issuing public notices when water doesn't comply with EPA standards.
Given this context, the role of CFPUA is to implement the standards set by the regulatory authorities.
While it is not the role of CFPUA to set forth water quality standards, CFPUA often participates in studies to gain additional understanding of the water CFPUA provides to customers. When CFPUA was approached to be part of a study pertaining to water at the Sweeney Plant, staff was more than willing to take part.
The goal of the NCSU study was to begin to fill the knowledge gap about the occurrence of fluorinated alternatives and their behavior during water treatment. The study was conducted and published, with a period of due diligence to follow to better understand the findings. A full timeline is available on our website at www.cfpua.org.
Throughout this process, CFPUA staff communicated with regulatory authorities and others about the findings, all with the goal of better understanding the results of the study.
At the conclusion of the review, reviewers determined that:
"Given all of the available information, it is our opinion that CFPUA staff acted in an appropriate, professional, timely, and scientific manner. Data was gathered, studied, and reviewed at appropriate levels. Based upon information and facts available to CFPUA at the time, staff moved the issue appropriately through the CFPUA chain of command."
Though the conclusion of the reviewers was that there was no inappropriate action taken by CFPUA staff, we know there is still room for improvement to release non-routine findings to the public. We are committed to taking action to improve the process for dealing with these unregulated chemicals, and will be meeting in the coming days to discuss next steps and action plans.
A full copy of the report, timeline and presentation of the report are posted on the website at www.cfpua.org.