Brunswick County: Following potential sediment spill by Chemours, PFAS levels below federal health advisory limits

Brunswick County: Following potential sediment spill by Chemours, PFAS levels below federal health advisory limits
GF Default - Local group planning protest at Chemours site

BOLIVIA, N.C. (WECT) - New results are following a possible sediment spill into the Cape Fear River from Chemours at its Fayetteville Works Plant, and according to Brunswick County, levels of PFAS were not in excess of the EPA-established health advisory level.

“Brunswick County conducted additional tests for per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) compounds on Cape Fear River water at the Kings Bluff raw water pump station July 23 and 24 to monitor for any increased PFAS levels following reports from Chemours about a potential sediment spill due to construction at its Fayetteville Works Plant,” according to a press release. “Under current guidance, the sample results do not exceed the EPA-established health advisory level for the combined total of PFOA + PFOS set at 70 parts per trillion (ppt) nor the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services-established health advisory level for GenX (HFPO-DA) set at 140 ppt.”

The samples showed levels of PFOA and PFOS on July 23 around 36 ppt and GenX levels at 15.7 ppt, the following day PFOA and PFOS levels were down to 17.56 ppt while GenX was up to 19.8 ppt.


PFOA + PFOS
Health Advisory Level: 70 ppt

GenX (HFPO-DA) Health Advisory Level: 140 ppt

Total of all Compounds (49 compounds)

July 23 (Kings Bluff Raw Water)

36.1 ppt

15.7 ppt

210.5277 ppt

July 24 (Kings Bluff Raw Water)

17.56 ppt

19.8 ppt

292.461 ppt

“Several factors including river flow, rainfall, point source discharges, and stormwater can all play a part in the amount of PFAS measured in the Cape Fear River, so it is not determinable if a potential sediment spill at the Fayetteville Works Plant was the only factor contributing to these levels. Brunswick County’s weekly samples of finished water have regularly fluctuated, ranging from below 50 ppt to nearly 300 ppt across samples so far collected in 2020,” according to the press release. “Additionally, the County’s regularly scheduled tests of both raw water from the Cape Fear River and treated water at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant Friday, July 24 also remained below current health advisory levels.”

Since the levels were lower than the EPA threshold the county is not issuing a health advisory notice at this time but will continue to conduct weekly testing for PFAS compounds and will publish the results online.

“Brunswick County’s regularly tests for 49 PFAS compounds in both raw water and finished water treated through the conventional water treatment system currently at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant. Most PFAS compounds are unregulated at the federal and state level at this time,” acording to the release.

Treating these chemicals and compounds has been difficult since so many of them are unregulated, however, Brunswick County is moving forward with a reverse osmosis project to ensure clean water for residents.

“The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a $122.6 million project to expand the water treatment capacity and install an advanced low-pressure reverse osmosis water treatment system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant. Low-pressure reverse osmosis is considered the most protective system to remove regulated and unregulated compounds like PFAS from water,” according to the release. “The notice to construct the project was issued June 5 to Oscar Renda Contracting, Inc. The low-pressure reverse osmosis system is estimated to begin treating water at the plant starting May 2023, with a projected completion of the full project in November 2023.”

When it comes to the cost, Brunswick County along with other utilities in the region have filed a lawsuit against Chemours to hold the company responsible for the damages.

“Brunswick County has also joined other utilities in the region to sue DuPont and Chemours. The County is seeking monetary damages from Chemours to hold it responsible for the millions of dollars the County is spending to install a new treatment system,” according to the release. “More information about water quality and Brunswick County’s initiatives to install an advanced water treatment system to remove regulated and unregulated compounds from water is at https://www.brunswickcountync.gov/utilities/gen-x-pfas-information/.”

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