BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Citing the company's importance to the local economy, Bladen County leaders have again voiced support for Chemours in emails sent to the NC Department of Environmental Quality.
The comments were submitted in response to the DEQ's proposed court order, filed June 11, that would require Chemours to implement numerous measures to eliminate or reduce air emissions and water impacts caused by GenX and related compounds, and address contamination in and around the Fayetteville Works facility.
Copies of the comments posted to the DEQ's website show an overwhelming majority are in favor of the DEQ's efforts.
"I fully support the proposed court order to require Chemours to clean up Cape Fear River water," one southeastern NC resident wrote. "Clean water is a right. Big business should not be allowed to endanger the public's health."
But the comments received from Bladen County leaders – County Manager Greg Martin, commissioners David Gooden, Daniel Dowless, Ray Britt, and Charles Peterson, and board clerk Maria Edwards – were among the few, if not the only, in support of the chemical company.
"Chemours is an important industry in Bladen County that employs hundreds of people," Martin wrote. "Chemours officials are taking environmental concerns seriously. They have demonstrated a commitment to address the GenX matter and to comply with DEQ related requirements."
Martin referenced Chemours' recent announcement to invest $100 million in improvements at its facility as an example of that commitment, and requested DEQ allow Chemours to continue operating while it implemented the new technology.
Gooden, Dowless, Britt, Peterson, and Edwards all wrote similar messages, also requesting the DEQ allow Chemours the time to implement its planned upgrades.
"I believe both a clean environment and prospering economy can coexist at and around the Fayetteville Works Chemours site," Gooden wrote. "Give the company an opportunity to build and open the facility. Closing the plant would be devastating to our entire region and tragic for the families of the employees. These are some of the very best jobs in our community. The employees are community leaders. The emerging contaminants issue is just beginning to impact our society. This plant can be a model for other companies in the future."
Last year, the state obtained a partial consent order requiring Chemours to stop all discharge of process wastewater containing GenX. In response, Commissioner Charles Peterson said the county was considering suing the state in an effort to stop any enforcement action that could shut the company down.
"We're going to protect our industry," Peterson previously said. "We're going to stand up and do what we think is right and if it takes legal action against the state of North Carolina, then we're certainly willing to do that."
A message to determine the status of that proposed legal action was not immediately returned.