CFPUA intervenes in Chemours’ appeal of discharge permit

CFPUA intervenes in Chemours’ appeal of discharge permit
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 4:58 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority filed a motion with the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings on Thursday to intervene in Chemours’ appeal of a discharge permit recently issued by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

The NCDEQ issued a permit to Chemours on Sept. 15 for a treatment system to remove PFAS in water coming from the company’s Fayetteville Works site.

PFAS are considered “forever chemicals” because of their tendency not to break down in the environment or the human body.

The permit limited the amount of PFAS allowed in Chemours’ discharged water.

Chemours announced it would appeal the permit on Oct. 14, stating “late changes to the permit as issued included future effluent limits that exceed the design basis of the proposed treatment system, giving rise to compliance uncertainty with the permit terms within the timeframe required.”

CFPUA noted in a news release that the appeal came just three days after the utility announced that no PFAS were detected in the most recent testing of drinking water treated at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant.

CFPUA has spent $43 million to build GAC filters at the Sweeney Plant. The utility says that the annual operating costs for the new filters are estimated to be $3.7 million in 2023 and approximately $5 million in subsequent years.

“The cost to operate the new GAC filters is directly tied to the amount of PFAS our neighbor Chemours is putting in the Cape Fear River. The more PFAS Chemours sends to the river, the more it costs us to remove those PFAS from our customers’ drinking water,” said CFPUA Executive Director Kenneth Waldroup. “At least 70 percent of our most recent rate increase and our next projected rate increase is directly attributable to Chemours’ pollution. On behalf of our customers, we have filed this motion to intervene and have a seat at the table so we can advocate for our community for enforcement of the permit as written.

“It is truly baffling to see Chemours complain about having to reduce its GenX discharges to a level below the EPA’s health advisory level while simultaneously funding an image campaign to persuade those paying to deal with its PFAS contamination that it is a good neighbor and announcing its intention to expand production at the Fayetteville Works. As permit writers at NCDEQ have pointed out, the limits in the permit are based on the capabilities of the technology and health guidance from EPA. Chemours needs to live up to its stated corporate values.”