DEQ orders Chemours to capture more wastewater containing GenX

DEQ orders Chemours to capture more wastewater containing GenX
(Source: NCDEQ)

RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - Citing findings in an Environmental Protection Agency report, the NC Department of Environmental Quality has ordered the Chemours Company to capture additional industrial wastewater at its Fayetteville Works site instead of releasing it into the Cape Fear River.

In a Monday afternoon news release, NCDEQ said the EPA report -- also released Monday -- includes analysis of industrial process wastewater samples it collected from manufacturing areas at Chemours' Fayetteville Works site on Sept. 18. The samples, which were tested for GenX, two Nafion byproducts and three other flourinated compounds, revealed concentrations of GenX that ranged from 265 to 8,860 parts per trillion.

GenX is an unregulated compound that was discharged by Chemours into the Cape Fear River at the Fayetteville Works site. The NC Department of Health and Human Services established a health goal of 140 parts per trillion for GenX.

Based on the EPA report's findings, DEQ ordered Chemours to capture and divert the industrial process wastewater from the manufacturing areas at the site so the wastewater can be taken out of state for incineration. Chemours will continue to capture and remove GenX from other areas inside the facility as it had been doing at DEQ's request since last summer.

"We are leaving no stone unturned to ensure we're doing everything we can to protect peoples' drinking water," DEQ Secretary Michael Regan said in Monday's news release. "Based on what we learned from these test results, we required the company to stop discharging chemicals of concern identified in the facility. This is another step in our ongoing work to stop possible contaminants at their source."

Chemours agreed this summer to stop discharging GenX from areas where it was known to be present and concentrations of the chemical in the river have dropped below the DHHS health goal at all finished drinking water sites since then.

Concentrations of Nafion byproduct 1 ranged from not being detected to 30,300 parts per trillion. For Nafion byproduct 2, the estimated concentrations ranged from 7,400 parts per trillion to 34,800 parts per trillion.

The EPA noted that test results for the Nafion byproducts and the three other compounds reflect estimations rather than exact concentrations because no lab standard exists for these chemicals.

DEQ said it will take appropriate steps if Chemours fails to meet the state's demands to stop releasing GenX and other fluorinated compounds into the Cape Fear River. DEQ continues to evaluate all of Chemours' waste streams in its review of Chemours' application to renew the company's wastewater discharge permit.

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