DEQ to Chemours: “Sample more wells and proceed more quickly”

The DEQ has identified seven areas in which the interim sampling and drinking water plan is deficient
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 6:04 PM EST
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) directed Chemours to expand its interim sampling and drinking water plan for the Cape Fear River area in a letter sent Wednesday.

“The interim plan is insufficient and does not include the necessary steps to adequately determine the extent of Chemours’ contamination in the downstream communities,” said DEQ Secretary Elizabeth S. Biser. “Chemours must contact residents directly, sample more wells and proceed more quickly to address contaminated drinking water.”

This direction is a follow-up from an interim plan for sampling drinking water in New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, and Columbus counties that was submitted by Chemours on February 1, 2022, in response to a request by the DEQ November 3, 2021.

DEQ directed Chemours to expand the off-site assessment required under the 2019 Consent Order to determine the extent of the contamination, and conduct sampling of private drinking water wells to identify residents who may be eligible for replacement drinking water supplies, stated the news release from the DEQ in part.

Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Board Chair Wesley P. Corder agreed the initial plan from Chemours was inadequate.

“The proposal Chemours offered on February 1 to assess and remedy its PFAS contamination of New Hanover County’s groundwater was wholly inadequate. We appreciate the diligence of the leadership and staff of New Hanover County and NCDEQ in insisting that Chemours start owning up to its responsibilities to the residents of New Hanover County.”

The NHC Board of Commissioners and the NHC Public Health Director support NCDEQ’s response to Chemours after they had advocated for greater protections.

“We appreciate NCDEQ’s response back to Chemours today and that they listened to our concerns here in New Hanover County,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “The revisions they are requiring for Chemours’ sampling plan in New Hanover County will help ensure our residents receive similar protections as those close to the plant who are already under the consent order. It’s what our community deserves, so this is a positive step forward.”

The DEQ has identified seven areas in which the interim sampling and drinking water plan is deficient, and is requiring Chemours to submit a revised plan within 30 days. The revisions must include, but are not limited to:

  • Expanding eligibility criteria of private wells to be sampled.
  • Starting sampling within 45 days.
  • Directly contacting eligible private well owners.
  • Using a data-driven approach to broaden private well sampling, not limited to 200 per county and not limited to residents who have requested sampling.
  • Including other property types for sampling where a private well is used as the primary source of drinking water, including schools, day care centers, churches, mobile home parks and others.
  • Providing bottled water to impacted residents within three days of receipt of sampling results and providing replacement drinking water supplies as required in Paragraphs 19 and 20 of the Consent Order.
  • Describing a proposed step-out or other approach to drinking water sampling based on the received results.

The response letter and related documents are available online.

Residents in the four counties of the lower Cape Fear River basin can request well sampling by calling 910-678-1100.

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