EPA regional staff was ‘unaware’ of GenX consent order, probe finds

GF Default - Local group planning protest at Chemours site
GF Default - Local group planning protest at Chemours site
Published: May. 28, 2020 at 5:26 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WECT) - An investigation by the internal watchdog for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found “insufficient communication and coordination” within the agency allowing DuPont, and later Chemours, to discharge the toxic compound GenX into the Cape Fear River virtually unchecked for nearly a decade.

The EPA Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) report (which can be viewed at the bottom of this story), issued on Monday, examined what actions the federal environmental agency took to verify compliance with requirements of a 2009 consent order. Primarily, the order required DuPont/Chemours to capture 99% of all water discharges and air emissions of GenX.

The report’s key finding: the agreement wasn’t reviewed by the EPA office responsible for conducting compliance monitoring and enforcement activities or shared with the regional office with oversight for the Chemours plant in Fayetteville.

Instead, the EPA relied only on information provided by DuPont/Chemours until June 2017, when media coverage of the presence of the perfluorinated compound in treated water in southeastern North Carolina prompted the first on-site inspection of the Fayetteville Works facility.

It’s worth noting the inspector general’s report did not establish whether or not DuPont/Chemours actually violated the requirements of the consent order.

In response to the report, the EPA has agreed to build a searchable database of all consent orders for its regional offices.

The report also recommended the EPA’s compliance monitoring office reviews the consent order its supposed to enforce. The OIG’s report said the EPA’s response to this recommendation is insufficient.

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