Gen X


Holden Beach Newsletter
Chemours has issued a press release announcing that the company will take measures to eliminate byproduct GenX wastewater emissions from its Fayetteville site.
Click here to view the release.

In order to keep citizens informed, Brunswick County has established a website to share information about GenX as they learn it. You can find this page at The website contains a FAQ section that they update as they learn additional information (or receive additional questions), links to all their press releases and links to other resources like information from NCDEQ. There is also a link where citizens can go to sign up to receive email updates on the topic.

The Public Information Officer for Brunswick County announced that the County has taken legal action against DuPont and Chemours for contaminating the Cape Fear River.

Statement from Brunswick County
The filing of formal legal action against Chemours and DuPont represents another crucial step in protecting our public drinking water supply. It sends a clear message that Brunswick County will simply not stand for the discharge of emerging or unregulated chemicals into our public drinking water supply. Let us be clear…we will ensure that any company that threatens this vital resource is held responsible. Furthermore, our litigation team is consulting the nation’s leading experts to determine the best long-term water testing and treatment methods for the entire county. As part of that, we will ensure that the costs for doing so do not fall upon the rate payers, but upon those dumping the unregulated chemicals in the water.
For more information » click here

Previously reported – January 2018
Top Story of 2017: GenX revelation leads to outrage, action
Discovery of toxic contaminant in region’s drinking water raises host of questions, concerns and prompts calls for statewide rules
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GenX update: So where do things stand now?
Much of the talk over the toxic contaminant and other emerging compounds might have moved to Raleigh, but there are still plenty of unresolved issues outside of the General Assembly
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Previously reported – February 2018
Lawmakers: Chemours should pay for NC GenX efforts
Many agree companies such as Chemours should pay to deal with problems caused by their pollution. But, actually getting money from polluters and providing it to state regulators, particularly for day-to-day costs such as staff and equipment, might be more difficult than it first appears. Earlier this month, the N.C. House unanimously passed a bill that would have provided $2.3 million in state funds, largely for equipment and personnel, to address emerging contaminants such as GenX. The state Senate promptly declined to take it up. Explaining his colleagues’ move, Senate President Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in part that the bill “leaves North Carolina taxpayers holding the bag for expenditures that should be paid for by the company responsible for the pollution.”
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Previously reported – April 2018
Wilmington officials ask NC to shut down GenX production
County officials are asking that the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) shut down operations that result in the production of chemicals like GenX, which have been discharged into the Cape Fear River and discovered in Wilmington-area drinking water systems.
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Previously reported – June 2018
EPA to set GenX toxicity value
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will develop a toxicity value for the potential carcinogen GenX and related compounds, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced at a national leadership summit in Washington Tuesday.
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NC tells Chemours to keep GenX out of air, groundwater
DEQ filed proposed court order Monday that would require Chemours to reduce air emissions and address contamination caused by GenX around the Fayetteville Works facility
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Previously reported – July 2018
NC tells Chemours to keep GenX out of air, groundwater
DEQ filed proposed court order Monday that would require Chemours to reduce air emissions and address contamination caused by GenX around the Fayetteville Works facility
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Southern Environmental Law Center files lawsuit calling for DEQ action on GenX
The Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit in New Hanover County Superior Court calling on the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to use its authority to require the Chemours Company to immediately stop all discharge of GenX and other chemically related compounds from its Fayetteville Works facility.

“The state needs to stop immediately Chemours’ toxic pollution of the air and water that families and communities from Fayetteville to Wilmington depend on,” said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney with the SELC. “Every day that goes by, Chemours puts more toxic pollution into the air and water that accumulates in our rivers, land, and groundwater. Chemours’ harmful pollution must end now.”

According to a Friday afternoon news release from the SELC, on June 15, DEQ denied a request from Cape Fear River Watch asking DEQ to require Chemours to stop pollution at its Fayetteville facility.     

 SELC argues in the lawsuit that DEQ has the authority and obligation to force Chemours to stop releasing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances into the water and air. “The people of North Carolina depend on DEQ to protect our health and safety in times of emergency,” said Cape Fear River Watch Board of Directors President Dana Sargent. “This is one of those times.”
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Previously reported – August 2018
CFPUA: Filtering GenX can be done, but will cost customers
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) may move to spend $46 million to upgrade the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant to filter — as much as possible — contaminants like GenX and other material that the Wilmington plant can’t filter from water drawn from the Cape Fear River.
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Previously reported – September 2018
Lawyers file suit against Chemours over GenX
Southern Environmental Law Center lawyers are suing The Chemours Co. on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch.

Chemours is the maker of GenX, the contaminant found in the Cape Fear River, which provides the raw water the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and the Brunswick County Utilities Department use for drinking water. The lawsuit was filed in Wilmington’s U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Southern Division against Chemours for air and water pollution with toxic perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), including GenX, from the Chemours Fayetteville Works Facility in violation of the Clean Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act. “Chemours’ decades-long contamination of North Carolina’s environment must stop to prevent more harm. The families and communities who drink from, swim in and fish on the Cape Fear River deserve healthy, clean water,” Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler said.
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Previously reported – October 2018
CFPUA forges ahead with GenX solutions
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) moved forward Tuesday with both short- and long-term plans to remove chemicals such as GenX from its customers’ drinking water.
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Previously reported – November 2018
Chemours to pay $12 million fine as part of GenX agreement
Proposed consent order requires Chemours to limit emissions at Fayetteville Works while also conducting studies

 If approved by a Bladen County Superior Court Judge, the agreement would require the company to limit the discharges of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) such as GenX, while simultaneously providing water or treatment equipment to residents whose water shows high levels of PFAS. Chemours also agreed to pay a $12 million civil penalty that, if unaltered, would be the highest fine ever collected by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. The company will also pay $1 million in investigative costs, with additional fees built into the agreement such as $200,000 if it fails to reduce annual emissions by 82 percent from 2017 levels beginning Oct. 6, $350,000 if it fails to reduce emissions by 92 percent from 2017 levels beginning Dec. 31 and $1 million if it fails to reduce emissions by 99 percent from 2017 levels from 2020 on. In a statement, Michael Regan, the secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, said, “People deserve access to clean drinking water, and this order is a significant step in our ongoing effort to protect North Carolina communities and the environment.”
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Previously reported – December 2018
NCDEQ does all it plans to do on lower Cape Fear GenX contaminants
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has done all it intends to do to address GenX and other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) in the lower Cape Fear River, based on answers provided in a Nov. 29 media conference call. The agency agreed Nov. 21 with The Chemours Co. and Cape Fear River Watch on a proposed consent order to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), including GenX, that contaminated wells and the Cape Fear River, the source of drinking water for Brunswick County, from Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility. The proposal would require Chemours to continue capturing all process wastewater from operations at the Fayetteville Works facility for off-site disposal until a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is issued that authorizes wastewater discharge. It focuses on addressing contamination of well water and GenX compound air emissions near the plant, with Chemours required to connect well owners to water systems or install and maintain under-sink reverse osmosis drinking water systems if they have combined PFAs levels above 70 parts per trillion or any individual PFAs compound above 10 parts per trillion.

DEQ Secretary for Environment Sheila Holman was asked why no other equipment or resources were made available to residents in the lower Cape Fear area. She said the DEQ and public pressure already forced Chemours to take steps to keep GenX out of the Cape Fear River and then the company stopped all wastewater discharge. “We will continue to monitor it,” Holman said. Holman said the proposed consent order was informed by the original investigation into GenX in the Cape Fear River from the Chemours discharge site at its Fayetteville Works plant. From there the DEQ further investigated PFAs in the groundwater, wells and air emissions. When asked about concerns the consent order doesn’t help residents downstream of the plant, Holman said the DEQ addressed those communities when it began requiring Chemours to collect wastewater and emissions to stop PFAs from entering the wastewater stream. “A lot has been geared to address the release of PFAs into the environment to protect those near the facility as well as downstream,” she said, adding the company took steps to stop Gen X from entering the Cape Fear River through other means like air emissions and groundwater. “We’ve tried to close these loops. We have Chemours monitoring the outfall. We worked hard to address all the ways (PFAS) get into the surface water. They are still trucking the wastewater out.”
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Why did CFPUA blast a proposed consent order between N.C. DEQ, Chemours and Cape Fear River Watch?
State regulators are not looking out for the needs of residents or utilities downstream of Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) alleged in a pair of motions filed Thursday in Bladen County Superior Court.
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Previously reported – January 2019
Chemours promises to reduce pollutants, but concerns persist downstream
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Previously reported – February 2019
EPA hits Chemours with notice of violation at Fayetteville Works
Chemours failed in several instances to inform federal regulators what chemicals it was using at its Fayetteville Works facility and what they were being used for, violating the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), according to a notice of violation the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued Wednesday. The notice stemmed from an inspection that a team of EPA staff and contractors conducted at Chemours’ site June 28 and 29, 2017, weeks after the StarNews first reported researchers had discovered GenX chemicals emanating from the Fayetteville Works facility in Wilmington’s finished drinking water. The EPA also wants to know when Chemours became aware that GenX was being released into the environment.
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Updated consent order requires Chemours to consider GenX in river
Chemours would have to analyze GenX and other chemicals in the Cape Fear River sediment and measure chemicals’ levels at raw water intakes, according to a revised consent order between the chemical giant, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Cape Fear River Watch. In Wilmington, officials and utilities expressed concerns that the original agreement — released Thanksgiving eve — required Chemours to provide water treatment technology to homes around the Fayetteville Works plant while leaving downstream utilities to foot the bill for ongoing contamination. Both the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) and New Hanover County passed resolutions calling for the order to provide additional protections for downstream residents. According to a document prepared by DEQ, changes to the order include requiring Chemours to provide an “accelerated” plan reducing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in the Cape Fear River, to submit monthly reports to regulators about PFAS emissions at the plant, and to update the corrective plan as new technology becomes available.
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Previously reported – March 2019
Judge signs GenX consent order
Agreement with DEQ, Cape Fear River Watch means Chemours will need to meet PFAS emissions and water contamination benchmarks
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Previously reported – April 2019
Proposed Gen X-related bill would target Chemours, form task force
Ambitious new legislation would set new standards for Gen X and other similar compounds in the state’s water supply. If passed, the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) would be required to form a task force to analyze and identify pollutants found in ground and surface waters, air, soil, dust, and food within the Lower Cape Fear River Basin. Cumberland, Bladen, Columbus, Brunswick, and New Hanover Counties all fall within that area. The measure would require Chemours and other polluting companies to be named and held financially responsible for replacing the tainted water supply with a permanent replacement water source. Additionally, polluting companies would be required to fund periodic maintenance for the filtration system used for the clean water supply. A chief sponsor of the bill, Sen. Harper Peterson believes that Gen-X is responsible for an elevated rate of thyroid cancer, liver cancer, and other illnesses in the Cape Fear region than in the rest of the state. The bill would require $270 million for funding.
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Previously reported – June 2019
Two years later, where do we stand on GenX?
It has been two years since news broke that the chemical compound known as GenX was found in the drinking water of thousands of people in the Cape Fear region. This unknown contaminant sparked fear and outrage across the area. Two years and countless meetings, protests, water samples, and lawsuits later, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says the water is far safer to drink than it was before GenX started making headlines. “It’s been two years but we’ve accomplished a lot in two years,” said Jim Flechtner, the executive director of CFPUA. “We’ve seen the levels of these contaminants produce not only in the river, but also in the finished water that we are drinking. We’re taking steps so that our plant can filter these compounds from our drinking water very effectively.” After calls from the community and political leaders, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has been forced to hold Chemours, the company responsible for dumping the chemical into the Cape Fear River, responsible. “We’re taking legal action against Chemours because we believe our customers shouldn’t pay for this. And we’re also working with the state because the real answer to this is that these contaminants shouldn’t be in the environment to begin with,” Flechtner said. Flechtner said the true answer to the ongoing problems is to have proper regulation and proper enforcement on a state level. Despite that, he said, CFPUA tests the drinking water before and after it is treated on a weekly basis. “Our water is cleaner than it used to be. We understand where these contaminants are coming from, and we’ve taken steps to stop it. We’re also holding those accountable through legal action who have put these contaminants in the environment. Two years ago, the levels of GenX and other toxic chemicals were estimated to be about 130,000 parts per trillion. Currently, levels of GenX in the river are measuring at 150 parts per trillion, Flechtner said. “Because of some of our work at our plant, we’re reducing that to about 60 parts per trillion in the finished water. So levels are down considerable. They have never been that high to begin with, but the good news is we’ve been able to bring them down,” he said. Throughout the past two years, community activists have attended forums and meetings, demanding clean water. Those efforts are finally paying off. “Our community is very engaged and that’s a great thing. The more active our customers are the more active our community is, the better results we’re going to get. So it’s encouraging to see all the grassroots efforts, the political efforts, regulatory efforts to bring the best water for this community. So while our focus is changed, I think we all understand where these compounds are coming from, from the upstream discharges and holding them accountable and responsible for what’s happened is important. And it’s very rewarding for me to see so many people in our community working on this issue,” Flechtner said. In the next two years, the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant will receive a granular activated carbon filter to remove more GenX and other contaminants from the drinking water. “We’re finishing up design on the granular activated carbon filters we added to our Sweeney Water Treatment Plant that will bring these levels down even further. So the water will be significantly cleaner. And it’s another barrier of protection. We can’t rely on these upstream companies to tell us what they’re putting in the river,” he said.
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Brunswick County sees spike in ‘forever chemical,’ GenX still below ‘health goal’
Brunswick County’s raw water saw a spike in the level of one member of the PFAS family in its raw water, while the levels of other related chemicals – including GenX – remain under state and federal ‘health advisories.’ PFAS are a family of chemicals sharing similar carbon-fluorine bonds; they are used in a host of industrial and commercial applications including non-stick cookware, fire-fighting agents, and food packaging, capitalizing on their ability to repel grease and water. There are over 4,700 members of the family and only limited testing has been done on a few PFAS chemicals, including GenX. However, several PFAS chemicals have been linked to cancer. According to Brunswick County, the most recent results of PFAS testing in the raw water from the county’s water treatment plant show elevated levels of one main PFAS chemical, known as PFMOAA (Perfluoro-2-methoxyacetic acid). The testing, performed by the North Carolina Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Testing (PFAST) Network, was done on a sample taken from Brunswick County’s Leland plant on May 29, 2019.
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Previously reported – October 2019
Chemours vows to become ‘best in the world’ at controlling PFAS
During a tour of Chemours last week, plant manager Brian Long stopped near a maze of pipes to explain new carbon adsorption systems that the company says are reducing airborne emissions of GenX and other potentially harmful fluorochemicals by 92 percent from 2017 levels. A few minutes later, Long stopped again, this time at a construction site surrounding a giant metal tower of pipes, chambers and supports that, by year’s end, is anticipated to become an operable, $100 million thermal oxidizer. Long said the oxidizer will destroy 99 percent of all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — or PFAS — keeping them from becoming airborne and leaving the plant’s boundaries.

Chemours has no choice but to meet the Dec. 31 deadline. It’s specified in a consent order entered in February between the company, the state and the environmental group Cape Fear River Watch. Construction crews are now working in two shifts to meet the deadline, Long said. Chemours has been under fire since June 2017, when the Wilmington Star-News reported that a potentially cancer-causing PFAS chemical called GenX had fouled the drinking water for an estimated 250,000 people who draw their water from the Cape Fear River downstream of the Chemours plant in Bladen County.
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