WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Phasing out substances containing perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA) by 2015 was noted by the DuPont Company as early as 2010, according to handwritten notes on documents released Friday by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.
Wilmington's Brooks Pierce Law Firm, which represents the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, sent the documents to North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael S. Regan with a cover letter stating that "CFPUA finds these documents to be of great concern, especially the hand-written notes that appear to have been taken during meeting with the DuPont/Chemours representatives."
The documents contain email exchanges between Michael E. Johnson, DuPont's environmental manager, and representatives of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, now known as the NCDEQ.
Tom Belnick, who is listed as the supervisor of NCDEQ's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting unit, and Johnson traded emails in an attempt to set up a meeting to, in Johnson's words, "discuss how the company is progressing on its goal to cease manufacturing PFOA at the Fayetteville Works site by 2015."
One of Johnson's emails went on to say they would also "discuss the PFOA replacement compound that is being produced" at the Fayetteville site.
In handwritten notes at the bottom of Johnson's email sent to Belnick on July 22, 2010, C-8, a PFOA used in manufacturing Teflon, is mentioned above the words "PFOA phase-out by 2015" and "PFOA replacement compound->GenX Technology."
DuPont faced a class action lawsuit over C-8 water contamination in West Virginia in 2004. A $71 million settlement was reached and DuPont had to pay for C-8 water treatment technology to clear the chemical from water districts and private wells.
On another page, the handwritten notes "New material-GenX" appear, followed by "low acute tox" and "Aq/Ecological Tox Studies = low impacts."
Since the discharge of GenX into the Cape Fear River by The Chemours Company was made public in a report by the Wilmington Star News, Chemours has said the amounts of GenX, an unregulated toxin, are "well below the health screening level announced by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on June 12, 2017, and the company continues to believe that emissions from its Fayetteville facility have not impacted the safety of drinking water."
Another email from June 24, 2015, mentions Johnson requesting a meeting with Belnick and other environmental reps "to discuss (an Environmental Protection Agency) study that identified a new perflouronated compound in the Cape Fear River."
Below that email, which also noted that Johnson would fly in a DuPont toxicologist, "ecological endpoint" and "human health effect" are handwritten above "PFOA replacement?-equiv. to new compd" which is likely referring to GenX.