Gen X

GenX

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 www.brunswickcountync.gov/genx. 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.

10.31.2017
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.
Read more » click here

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
Read more » click here

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.
Read more » click here

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.
Read more » click here

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.”
Read more » click here

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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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.
Read more » click here

Report: Pre-2017 Cape Fear River highly polluted with PFAS
Analysis of water samples showed contaminant levels at 1,000s of times NC’s health goal
Read more » click here

Action Alert:
Two Opportunities to Make Your Voice Heard on Emerging Contaminants
With the recent news that combined PFAS levels in the Cape Fear River were as high as 130,000 parts per trillion in 2015 – orders of magnitude higher than acceptable health standards – it is more important than ever to take a stance for clean water.

Two upcoming local events organized by Clean Cape Fear and North Carolina Stop GenX in Our Water provide opportunities for you to do just that.

Your help is needed to encourage Congress to urgently address this public health crisis, and/or to join your fellow community members at a demonstration at the Chemours plant in Bladen County.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation has been actively involved in all aspects of the emerging contaminant issue and we remain fully committed to informing and engaging impacted communities so that elected officials and regulators can make informed decisions that will restore and protect the health of our citizens and the environment.

Details of these pressing needs are provided below, along with contact information for joining the efforts.

For more information on the GenX issue, visit our webpage at nccoast.org/genx, and/or contact Kerri Allen at kerria@nccoast.org or (910) 509-2838 if you have questions.

Action Item #1: Call your Senator
Contact: Emily Donovan, Clean Cape Fear

We just learned three critical pieces of PFAS legislation in Congress are hanging in the balance as we speak. Now is the time to act! Please help us call Sen. Burr & Sen. Tillis’s offices. Your phone calls do work. They get recorded every day. A tally is taken and shared with both senators. This is how we let them know these PFAS amendments are vital to healing our communities.

We need both senators to use their influence and persuade Sen. McConnell and Sen. Barrasso to add PFAS *as a class* to the Clean Water Act, CERCLA, and the Toxic Release Inventory as part of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)–otherwise known as the annual federal defense spending bill.

Congress has the power to take a good first step in addressing the nation’s growing PFAS public health crisis. This week is critical as Sen. McConnell and Sen. Barrasso will decide if these PFAS provisions are included in the annual defense spending bill.

Why is this important:

  1. Adding PFAS, as a class, to the Clean Water Act empowers the EPA to set discharge limits on PFAS into surface waters–like the Cape Fear and Haw rivers–which over 1.5 million residents rely on as their primary source for drinking water. This allows states, like NC, to regulate the presence of PFAS through discharge permits. Without this addition, states are left guessing where PFAS is being used and released.2. Adding PFAS, as a class, to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) empowers the EPA to unlock Superfund law. This will allow states, like NC, to force the polluter to pay. Companies, like Chemours, should pay for the mess they made. This addition would allow that to happen. Without it we are left paying for someone else’s mess.3. Adding PFAS, as a class, to the Toxic Release Inventory will allow states, like NC, to monitor where PFAS are being used and released within the state. Currently, NC’s DEQ is having to guess where PFAS chemicals are used.

Call script:
“Hi! My name is [your name], My zip code is [your zip code]. I’m calling to encourage Senator [Burr/Tillis] use their influence and persuade Sen. McConnell and Sen. Barrasso to add PFAS *as a class* to the Clean Water Act, CERCLA, and the Toxic Release Inventory as part of the fiscal year 2020 NDAA. This issue is very important to me. Thank you for your time!”

Sen. Burr: 202.224.3154
Sen. Tillis: 202.224.6342

Please call every day and get at least 5 friends or family members to call with you. This issue is too important to our health and our future health.

Action Item #2: Demonstration at Chemours
Contact: Beth Markesino, North Carolina Stop GenX in our Water

On Saturday, Oct. 26, local residents can ride for free to a gathering at the Chemours Fayetteville Works Plant in Bladen County to protest GenX contamination of the Cape Fear River. Demonstrators will meet at County Line Road at N.C. 87 at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.

The event is part of a global day of action. Protests will also take place at Chemours operations in Italy and Mexico. Demonstrators at this event in Fayetteville will include members of the Tuscarora tribe. The event is being organized by two organizations, North Carolina Stop GenX in Our Water and Gray’s Creek Residents United Against PFAS in Our Wells and Rivers.

Thanks to the generosity of Cape Fear Coach Lines, free transportation is available for Wilmington residents wishing to attend. Pick up is at 9:30 a.m. at Independence Mall near Belk’s shopping center. Those wishing to reserve a seat for the ride to the Chemours Plant should email Beth Markesino, President of North Carolina Stop GenX in Our Water at bethamarkesino@yahoo.com.

Previously reported – November 2019

EPA moves forward with plan to address PFAS in drinking water
The EPA is inching forward with their plan to address forever chemicals in our water. The agency announced forward momentum this week on efforts to eventually put a legal limit on how much PFOA and PFOS is allowed in drinking water, give the government authority to investigate spills and make companies pay if the chemicals are discharged into the environment. All of this comes months after the EPA announced a historic plan to regulate the chemicals in February of this year. When the plan was announced last winter, leaders said they expected a “regulatory determination” to come down by the end of the year. On Wednesday, the agency delivered on that promise. PFOA and PFOS are man-made substances often released through industrial manufacturing that do not degrade in the environment. Those chemicals are part of a larger set of chemicals known as PFAS. PFAS have been linked to developmental issues, cancer and problems with the thyroid and liver.
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Previously reported – December 2019
EPA moves forward with plan to address PFAS in drinking water
The EPA is inching forward with their plan to address forever chemicals in our water. The agency announced forward momentum this week on efforts to eventually put a legal limit on how much PFOA and PFOS is allowed in drinking water, give the government authority to investigate spills and make companies pay if the chemicals are discharged into the environment. All of this comes months after the EPA announced a historic plan to regulate the chemicals in February of this year. When the plan was announced last winter, leaders said they expected a “regulatory determination” to come down by the end of the year. On Wednesday, the agency delivered on that promise. PFOA and PFOS are man-made substances often released through industrial manufacturing that do not degrade in the environment. Those chemicals are part of a larger set of chemicals known as PFAS. PFAS have been linked to developmental issues, cancer and problems with the thyroid and liver.
Read more » click here

Previously reported – February 2020
Brunswick County tops national list for PFAS contamination
A study from the Environmental Working Group tested tap water samples from 44 sites across the county in 2019. The results of that study, fully released at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, found Brunswick County had the highest level of PFAS contamination at 185.9 parts per trillion. Wilmington, at 50.5 ppt, was also in the top five on the list that ranks 31 states and the District of Columbia for presence of these per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and more than 600 others.
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Public Notice
Brunswick County statement in response to Environmental Working Group
January 2020 report
Brunswick County began an extensive testing program for PFAS contaminants when academic studies revealed the presence of multiple PFAS in its drinking water, testing a suite of PFAS contaminants on a weekly basis. Brunswick County’s water samples have continuously remained below the EPA’s established health advisory levels for PFOA + PFOS and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ established provisional health goal for GenX, however the combined levels of all PFAS is concerning and the County continues to test and monitor for most known PFAS compounds and GenX during its routine testing.

At this time, the EPA does not have an established health goal for several of the other compounds listed in this report that are contributing to the overall 185.9 ppt sample level, however the PFOA + PFOS and GenX sample levels in this report are also below the provisional health goals mentioned above. Due to the fact that little or no study has been done on the health effects of combined PFAS or many of these individual PFAS found in the source water, Brunswick County has taken a proactive approach to install the most protective water treatment system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant to remove these contaminants.

Brunswick County’s leadership recognizes that high quality water is of paramount importance to our customers and residents and agree that reverse osmosis is the most effective PFAS removal technology, which is why the Board of Commissioners and county administration are embarking on a project to install an advanced low-pressure reverse osmosis treatment system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant, as well as increase capacity at the plant to support the county’s growth. Brunswick County Public Utilities has been working diligently with engineers at CDM-Smith and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to design, permit and build an economical low-pressure reverse osmosis system at the plant for the benefit of all Brunswick County water users.

Low-pressure reverse osmosis is considered one of the most advanced and effective methods to treat and remove both regulated and unregulated materials from drinking water, including GenX, 1,4-dioxane and other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In April 2018, the County conducted two rounds of testing on a pilot low-pressure reverse osmosis system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant. The results showed that low-pressure reverse osmosis reduced most PFAS including GenX to undetectable levels, essentially removing all the components.

Not only do pilot studies indicate that low-pressure reverse osmosis is the most effective advanced treatment method for PFAS removal, but they also indicate that it is the most economical advanced treatment option for the removal of high percentages of PFAS at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant. Most previous studies focus on the high-energy cost when using reverse osmosis for the treatment of saline or brackish water, but the cost is considerably less when used to treat fresh water for PFAS contaminants, especially short-chain PFAS.

All of the County’s water sample test reports are available to the public at https://www.brunswickcountync.gov/genx/


Previously reported – March 2020
CFPUA: Chemours’ vague and inadequate corrective plan ‘falls far short’
The company responsible for the contamination of the Cape Fear River with the chemical known as GenX has proposed a ‘corrective action plan’ to the state — a plan that the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says falls short. “Chemours’ proposed corrective action plan (CAP) to address decades of PFAS releases from its chemical plant on the Cape Fear River consists largely of vague promises of PFAS reductions to be realized years into the future and is inadequate to protect downstream water users, CFPUA wrote in comments submitted today to state regulators,” according to a CFPUA press release.
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NCDEQ requiring Chemours to make extensive changes to Corrective Action Plan
The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality announced Tuesday that it is requiring Chemours to make extensive revisions to the proposed Corrective Action Plan the company submitted in December. “The proposed plan is clearly deficient and fails to address the fundamental purposes of a corrective action plan,” said Michael S. Regan, DEQ Secretary. “Chemours will not receive approval from this department until they address appropriate clean up measures for the communities impacted by the contamination and meet the terms of the Consent Order.” DEQ officials say that based on their initial review the proposed Corrective Action Plan “lacks a thorough technical basis, including an adequate assessment of human exposure to PFAS compounds and a thorough evaluation of on- and off-site groundwater contamination.” State officials also said that the plan does not provide for appropriate remediation of on-site groundwater or off-site contamination. The DEQ received more than 1,240 public comments on the plan. “The vast majority of the commenters believe the proposed plan from Chemours is not sufficient to address community concerns, the requirements of state law and the Consent Order,” the NCDEQ stated in a news release. The public comments can be seen here. The February 2019 Consent Order and related documents are available online at https://deq.nc.gov/ChemoursConsentOrder.
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Previously reported – March 2020
EPA failed to monitor GenX chemical for eight years
In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached an agreement to allow DuPont to manufacture its GenX chemical at its plant in Bladen County near Fayetteville as long as it captured and destroyed or recycled 99% of the GenX the plant would otherwise emit into the air and water. But from 2009 to the end of June 2017, the EPA made no inspections to make sure the plant, now operated by Chemours Co., was in compliance with the agreement, says a report issued Thursday by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General. Until June 2017, the EPA relied on information provided to it by Chemours to verify that the plant was in compliance with the agreement, the report says. The first inspections were done after the StarNews of Wilmington reported there was GenX in drinking water supplies of communities along the Cape Fear River downstream of the factory.
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Previously reported – July 2020
NCDEQ Public Participation Forum on PFAS Contamination at the Chemours Facility on the Cape Fear River
The public will have a chance at 6:00 p.m. August 4 to hear how the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) is working to prevent and remediate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, contamination at the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility.

NCDEQ and the state Department of Health and Human Services’ staff will review updates on actions pertaining to the February 2019 Consent Order, drinking water well sampling results, the Community Involvement Plan and updates from Waste Management, Air Quality and Water Resources divisions.

The public is invited to participate by phone or online during the web conference. Call 1-415-655-0003, access code: 161 074 7124 or through WebEx. Event password is GenX804.

Those interested in commenting or asking questions during the meeting will need to preregister by completing the online form, https://bit.ly/32HIRmE, by email to comments.chemours@ncdenr.gov with your name and “Aug. 4 public information meeting” in the subject line or by leaving a voicemail with your name and phone number at 919-707-8233.

Following the presentations by state representatives, community members who preregistered will have an opportunity to ask questions. The public can also ask questions through a chat feature in the web conferencing software.

This is an important topic for our residents to keep informed on. Brunswick County is in the process of upgrading its water treatment system to ensure the wholesale provision of safe potable water to the Town of Holden Beach. This is very important to the Town not only from the obvious public health perspective, but also as potentially impacting the as yet to be determined water rate agreement between the Town and county which will have to be determined very soon as our existing 40-year wholesale water contract expires in the very near future

Previously reported – August 2020
Deal reached for Chemours to stop remaining GenX chemical pollution of Cape Fear River
While the parties praise the proposed lawsuit settlement, the water utility in Wilmington says it and its customers were left out of the negotiations.
North Carolina regulators and an environmental group reached a tentative agreement in their lawsuit with the Chemours Co. on how Chemours will curb its remaining PFAS and GenX “forever chemicals” contamination of the Cape Fear River, the parties announced Thursday afternoon. The main supplier of drinking water in the Wilmington area, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, said late Thursday it was not included in the negotiations, and it is unhappy that it knew nothing of the proposed deal until it was contacted by the state earlier in the day. The utility gets its water from the river. The parties are the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, the Cape Fear River Watch environmental organization and Chemours. The proposed deal would be an amendment to the terms of a previous lawsuit settlement regarding Chemours’ long discharge of PFAS chemicals into the river and the air from its plant on the Cape Fear River south of Fayetteville. “Today’s actions lay out exactly how Chemours will clean up the residual contamination they’ve caused that continues to impact communities along the Cape Fear River,” DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan said in a news release. The amendment would address pollution getting into the Cape Fear River from contaminated groundwater on Chemours’ property, from contaminated surface waters there and from rainwater that picks up PFAS chemicals when it lands on the site. The DEQ said it will take public comment on the settlement’s proposed addendum for 30 days and consider those comments before submitting it to a judge in Bladen County Superior Court. Under the original agreement, Chemours stopped the intentional discharge of the PFAS pollutants into the water and spent $100 million to build a system to remove PFAS from the air emissions at its Fayetteville Works plant. These remedies did not address the groundwater and surface waters. The settlement amendment announced Thursday spells out goals and deadlines for Chemours to install additional equipment and infrastructure to filter and treat the groundwater and surface waters. The company is to remove 99% of the PFAS contamination.
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DEQ, Chemours reach agreement to further reduce PFAS pollution
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Chemours have reached another agreement that will reduce PFAS pollution from entering the Cape Fear River through groundwater. Since 2017, DEQ actions and the Consent Order have stopped the process wastewater discharge from the facility and drastically reduced air emissions of PFAS by 99.9%. The additional actions presented Thursday in the Addendum to the Consent Order will further reduce the PFAS contamination to the Cape Fear River and improve water quality for downstream communities. These additional actions address more than 90% of the PFAS entering the Cape Fear River through groundwater from the residual contamination on the site. “We have already issued significant penalties and ordered Chemours to stop actively polluting. Today’s actions lay out exactly how Chemours will clean up the residual contamination they’ve caused that continues to impact communities along the Cape Fear River,” said DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan. “This level of action is unprecedented and continues to build a foundation for the Attorney General’s broader investigation of PFAS in North Carolina. As a state, we will not wait for action from the federal government to provide relief for our communities and protect our natural resources.”

Moving forward, Chemours is required to treat four identified ‘seeps’ which account for more than half of the contaminated groundwater reaching the river in two phases.

  • The interim measures to filter PFAS at an efficiency of at least 80% from the first of the four seeps will go into effect starting by Mid-November – with all four completed by April 2021.
  • The permanent measure is the construction of a subsurface barrier wall approximately 1.5 miles long and groundwater extraction system that will remove at least 99% of PFAS to be completed by March 2023.

Chemours is also required to treat on-site stormwater that is adding residual pollution to the river with a capture and treatment system that must remove at least 99% of PFAS.

  • Failure to meet the schedules or achieve the removal goals will result in financial penalties, including:
  • Failure to meet the construction schedule for the interim measures will result in fines of $5,000 per day for the first 14 days and $10,000/day until construction is complete.
  • Failure to meet the barrier wall installation schedule results in a $150,000 fine followed by $20,000 per week until installation is complete.
  • Failure to meet the barrier wall’s 95% mass loading goal in the initial demonstration results in a $500,000 fine, with a $100,000 fine for failure to meet any of the four subsequent demonstrations.

“We believe this commitment is significant and meaningful; it aligns to our Chemours Corporate Responsibility Commitments to reduce the emissions of PFAS by at least 99% at all Chemours manufacturing sites worldwide,” Chemours said in a news release. “These actions are in addition to the successful installation of over $100 million in emissions control technology, including a state-of-the art thermal oxidizer, that are controlling over 99% of all PFAS emissions from our manufacturing processes, a treatment system for the historic discharge channel at the site that is under construction and scheduled to be commissioned in late September pending NC DEQs issuance of a permit, and the extensive actions to provide a permanent drinking water source for private well owners whose wells tested above PFAS levels as provided in the Consent Order Agreement.” However, CFPUA was surprised by the Chemours Consent Order addendum. CFPUA said it was not provided with an advanced copy of the addendum.

“It is disappointing that we and our customers have once again been excluded by the State from these discussions about a subject that is of vital interest to our community,” said CFPUA Executive Director Jim Flechtner. “We have seen no evidence this or any of the steps proposed so far by Chemours will sufficiently improve water quality to the same level that the State has set as the standard for private well owners around Chemours’ site,” Flechtner said. “We continue to be frustrated that our customers continue to be treated differently than people near the plant.” The Addendum to the Consent Order with the additional requirements and penalties will be provided for public comment for 30 days. The comment period will be announced next week. DEQ will consider the public comments before the Addendum is presented for entry by the Bladen County Superior Court. The Addendum is available here.
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Previously reported – August 2021
GenX and your health:
What we know 4 years after the toxin was found in Wilmington’s drinking water
Scientists have established that people in the Cape Fear region have extremely high amounts of PFAS in their blood, but little is known about these compounds
For decades, thousands of North Carolinians drank contaminated water from the Cape Fear River. The pollution has been brought under control, but in the aftermath, fear over what the toxins have done to people’s bodies has arisen. Unknown to most until 2017, Chemours and before them DuPont, two chemical manufacturers, polluted the Cape Fear River with harmful chemicals for more than 30 years. Since the 1980s, dangerously high levels of PFAS, including one called GenX, leaked uncontrollably into the river, which serves as the drinking water source to more than 300,000 people. In 2017, a StarNews investigation identified the Fayetteville Works plant outside Fayetteville as the primary source, but Kemp Burdette, the Cape Fear River riverkeeper, said there are many more PFAS polluters out there. All this pollution has a human cost. For decades, Burdette, his family and hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians drank the water from their facets, unaware of the risk. Now many are left wondering what will happen to them. “You talk to people in Wilmington and everybody knows somebody that has died of kidney cancer, liver cancer, has thyroid issues or any number of things that are very definitely linked to PFAS,” Burdette said. Scientists are trying to provide answers, but various challenges are creating roadblocks. Scientists in North Carolina have established that the populations in the Cape Fear region have extremely high amounts of PFAS in their blood, but little is known about these compounds and researching them is complex and takes time. Jane Hoppin and her colleagues at the GenX Exposure Study have been studying PFAS in North Carolina since the crisis began four years ago. The group has taken blood samples from affected residents and is now embarking on a larger five-year study to examine the long-term health effects of exposure to PFAS, which is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. In Wilmington, researchers estimate residents ingested approximately 700 parts per trillion of PFAS every day for more than 30 years, said Hoppin, who’s the principal investigator of the project. That exposure is five times the exposure goal set by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “We still don’t know whether there’s a unique fingerprint to health risks for people who live in Wilmington (and Fayetteville),” said Hoppin, a professor at North Carolina State University. “We may never know because the kinds of things that PFAS are most strongly related to in animal studies aren’t super unique.” Animal testing done on PFAS in general reveals the chemicals can cause liver damage that could lead to cancer or tumors, according to Jamie DeWitt, professor of pharmacology and toxicology at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine. PFAS exposure can also lead to kidney, testicular and other cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute, however it’s unknown if the types of PFAS North Carolinians were exposed to cause the same illnesses. “There’s several reasons toxicologists like me are concerned about PFAS,” DeWitt said. “One of the main reasons is that they’re persistent. They last for an indefinite period of time in the environment, which means that living organisms are going to be continually exposed for generations.”
What more do we know?
Since 2017, the GenX Exposure Study has collected blood samples from more than 300 people in the Cape Fear region to measure how much of the chemicals have been absorbed into people’s bodies. The results took researchers by surprise, Hoppin said. The team found numerous types of PFAS in participants’ blood, including legacy PFAS at levels above the 95th percentile compared to the U.S. population. Studying PFAS is a challenge, partly because there’s no “charismatic tragic illness” felt by the masses to inspire action, Hoppin said. Also, many of the potential health outcomes, such as cancer, can be caused by a multitude of factors, complicating the job of trying to identify how the toxin affects people. Researchers are making some progress, but traditionally scientists study one compound individually, which can be very time and labor intensive, said Carrie McDonough, an assistant professor and environmental chemist at Stony Brook University. “You can imagine when we have thousands of these compounds, we have new ones all the time that are getting discovered. It’s really hard to keep up with these kinds of toxicological studies,” McDonough said. Scientists have few human population studies to judge the effects of PFAS, according to Alan Ducatman, professor emeritus at West Virginia University. The few population studies out there also might not be relevant to North Carolina because compounds are distinct, meaning outcomes could be different. Ducatman served as principal investigator for the C8 Health Project, a population study convened after DuPont released a PFAS called C8, the precursor to GenX, into the mid-Ohio Valley contaminating the drinking water of more than 80,000 people. After decades of polluting the valley, DuPont paid out hundreds of millions to affected residents and later decided to replace C8 with a new substance called GenX. That new compound was supposed to be safer and would be manufactured by a spinoff business named Chemours outside Fayetteville.
In your blood
While the bloodwork done by the GenX Exposure Study found new PFAS in North Carolinians’ blood, it’s not getting a complete picture about how many manmade chemicals are in a person’s body, DeWitt said. Researchers only measured the blood, which excludes any buildup in a person’s organs where there could be more. The chemicals measured in participants’ blood four years ago are likely still there, DeWitt said. Depending on the half-life of the specific compound, it could take years or even a lifetime for the chemical to breakdown and exit the body, and that’s if new exposure ends. Measurable amounts of GenX, PFOA and PFOS, all PFAS compounds, continue to be found in the Cape Fear River both leaving the Fayetteville Works Plant and entering the drinking water source of Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, according to water sampling done by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. While the amounts are below state recommended health levels, North Carolinians continue to be exposed to the PFAS chemicals. “You never are really going to fully get rid of what you have in your body because you have continuous exposure,” DeWitt said. “What little bit gets left behind gets added to by the new amounts that you take into your body.” It’s likely nearly everyone who drank the contaminated water in the Cape Fear region will have detectable levels of PFAS in their bodies, DeWitt said. Detectable levels don’t mean a person will develop cancer or another disease linked to PFAS, it just means that they are at an increased risk. Scientists still have a lot to learn about how PFAS interact in the bloodstream, but from what they know now, it’s clear the chemicals behave differently than other toxins, McDonough said. Because the chemicals behave differently and are novel substances there’s a steep learning curve for researchers, McDonough said, but from what scientists already understand the news doesn’t seem encouraging.
What happens from here?
From what Ducatman observed in West Virginia with C8, it didn’t take long for signs of exposure to start showing up in the community. Scientists could quickly see some of the effects in children. By adolescence, scientists could measure a noticeable difference in lipids between children exposed to high levels of C8 and those who weren’t, Ducatman said. Researchers also found children who were exposed to C8 had vaccine uptake issues, meaning their bodies didn’t fully absorb immunizations as well as those who weren’t affected by the manmade compounds. Much of the research on the populations affected by the C8 contamination, including the C8 Science Panel, were carried out as part of the legal settlement between DuPont and the victims of the exposure. Scientists, as part of the C8 Science Panel, would go on to establish probable links between C8 and kidney and testicular cancer, pregnancy induced hypertension, ulcerative colitis and thyroid disease. No such agreement exists in North Carolina, and thus Hoppin’s team is being supported by grant funding, making it harder to gather as much data as what was achieved in West Virginia. Nonetheless, the five-year study being conducted by Hoppin and others will build off what was learned in West Virginia, Hoppin said. The study is currently recruiting participants in the Fayetteville area, but will start looking for Wilmington residents this fall, Hoppin said. Hoppin hopes to have between 1,200-1,400 participants. Because taxpayers are paying for the study, the examination will focus on health outcomes that will impact people over the course of their lifetimes, Hoppin said. Hoppin added it’s hard for researchers to examine cancer in relation to PFAS in North Carolina because Wilmington’s population has grown so quickly, and the disease generally has a 20-year latency period, meaning it can take up to 20 years for cancer to form as a result of PFAS exposure. “There are a million questions out there that people want to know the answers to, and I think that as researchers we need to focus on the ones that we are skilled to answer,” Hoppin said.

Chemours’ proximity to Cape Fear, Wilmington
Chemours’ Fayetteville Works plant is located along the Cape Fear River approximately 20 miles southeast of Fayetteville and roughly 100 miles upstream from Wilmington.
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GenX water crisis: Could we face another toxic water disaster? Experts say danger is still there
Some positive steps have been taken in the past four years since the GenX crisis began, but experts say residents remain at risk of another disaster happening
In 2017, more than 300,000 people found out they had been drinking toxic water for decades, all stemming from a chemical manufacturing plant almost 100 miles up the Cape Fear River. Positive steps have been taken in the aftermath, and yet nothing stops the same disaster from happening again tomorrow. In critical areas, such as regulations governing chemical dumping and enforcement of those rules, experts say nothing has changed, meaning residents in Wilmington, Fayetteville and beyond face a very real chance of enduring the same disaster all over again. In the four years since the crisis began, PFAS levels in the drinking water around the Wilmington area and in Brunswick and Pender counties have come down dramatically, more than 99%, according to Detlef Knappe, a professor focused on drinking water quality and treatment at North Carolina State University. The crisis in North Carolina has brought a lot of attention to the larger issue of PFAS, though no amount of progress can make up for the 30-plus years of pollution and exposure thousands had to experience, Knappe added. “The concern I have is really there’s nothing in our regulatory system now to prevent something similar with a pollutant that we don’t yet know about,” Knappe said. “In my view, we need to really rethink the way we regulate industries and especially industries that produce high volumes of chemicals.” For more than 30 years, PFAS, including GenX, leaked into the Cape Fear River from a chemical plant owned by DuPont until 2015, when it was taken over by Chemours. The Cape Fear River is the main drinking water source to more than 300,000 people in southeastern North Carolina. PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of thousands of chemical compounds that are largely toxic to humans. Chemours has made a “sizable investment” at its Fayetteville Works plant since 2017 to eliminate 97% of its PFAS and GenX emissions, according to a statement from the company. Chemours has installed GAC (granular activated carbon) filters, an emissions control facility, water treatment center and is planning to build an underground barrier wall around its property to contain the remaining 3% of PFAS emissions. “Chemours has made significant investments in emissions control technology and remediation activity at its Fayetteville Works site,” according to the statement. “The company has taken numerous actions over the past four years that have dramatically decreased emissions of PFAS and loading to the Cape Fear River.” While quite a lot of progress has been made, scientists are also finding that the disaster is larger than previously thought, said Dana Sargent, executive director of Cape Fear River Watch, who along with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, is supervising Chemours’ cleanup activities. As part of a court order reached in 2019, Chemours funded water sampling tests around the region, Sargent said. Those tests found that there were an additional 257 types of PFAS leaking from Chemours’ facility into the Cape Fear River that weren’t previously known about. “Chemours and its predecessor had more than 40 years to show honorable commitment to the community and the environment,” Sargent said. “They chose profit instead. Their so-called ‘commitment’ to reducing PFAS in the environment began in 2019 – by court order.” The consent order was an excellent step forward to preventing the disaster from getting worse, but it took several years to negotiate, said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. The SELC represented Cape Fear River Watch during negotiations with the state and Chemours. Beyond the consent order, little else in terms of regulations has changed since the crisis began, Gisler said. More frustrating than that, Gisler said, is that the regulatory tools that could’ve prevented the contamination in the first place have existed for 50 years. The state and federal government just aren’t using them, he said. “This situation was not a failure of the law,” Gisler said. “The way the law is written is good enough to prevent this. It’s a failure of the agencies that we trust to enforce the law.
What progress has been made?
In Wilmington, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, the primary water provider in the area, immediately instituted interim solutions to filter out the PFAS while it constructs a $46 million filtration system at its Sweeney Water Treatment Plant, said Carel Vandermeyden, CFPUA’s deputy executive director. CFPUA is using its 14 existing filters at Sweeney to filter out PFAS, Vandermeyden said. The solution isn’t meant to work long-term, but on average it removes 30% to 40% of the toxic chemicals. The public utility’s testing capabilities for PFAS have come a long way since 2017, Vandermeyden said. Four years ago, the utility tested for approximately 20 compounds, but now it looks for more than 50. At least half of the PFAS chemicals CFPUA looks for today, it didn’t know about in 2017, Vandermeyden said. The utility continues to add more compounds to its list as testing methods are created for the massive class of chemicals. Statewide, the North Carolina legislature formed the North Carolina PFAS Testing Network, a consortium of researchers, in 2018 as a result of the ongoing contamination, according to Lee Ferguson, a professor at Duke University and co-chair of the Network’s executive advisory committee. The program and state have become a national leader in terms of monitoring programs related to PFAS, Ferguson said. Few other states have programs made up of academic researchers using cutting-edge technology to find PFAS compounds in drinking water. Ferguson and Knappe are part of a team within the PFAS Testing Network that’s assessing every municipal drinking water source in North Carolina for PFAS contamination. The researchers were surprised by just how much PFAS there is in the water across North Carolina and the various sources it comes from, Ferguson said. In Southeastern North Carolina, the primary source is Chemours, but in the central part of the state the team found high concentrations of legacy PFAS. The issue will continue to jeopardize people’s safety because “we live in a universe of chemistry,” Ferguson said. With tens of thousands of different chemical compounds, and more being created every year, no monitoring network can possibly keep up. “We’re left with these problems of unregulated and unmonitored emerging contaminants, which come to our attention only when a researcher either thinks to look for them, or the problem becomes so acute downstream that people have health impacts,” Ferguson said.
Being proactive, not reactive to PFAS

Right now, the United States takes a reactive approach to PFAS chemicals rather than a proactive one, Sargent said. Manufacturers create the substances, discharge it into the environment and if people start to get sick then maybe the government will monitor it and possibly regulate it years after it became a problem. “I have a brother who is a Chicago firefighter and a U.S. Marine. He was diagnosed with Glioblastoma in the winter of 2017 just a few months after we found out about our contamination here,” Sargent said. “He died in the winter of 2019 at 47 years old. We don’t know if his exposure to PFAS, which was excessive because of his career, was what caused his death. That’s completely unacceptable.” The government should do more to protect Americans and stop these industries and companies such as Chemours or DuPont from creating toxic messes that can cause serious health issues, Sargent said. If a chemical isn’t regulated in the U.S., like most PFAS, there’s very little any entity can do to stop industries or companies from discharging it into the environment, Knappe said. The U.S. needs a new framework on how it regulates chemicals, Knappe said. There are thousands of PFAS compounds, new ones being invented all the time and there’s no realistic way for any regulatory agency to keep up. The weak links in this situation, according to Knappe, are the policy and enforcement. It’s one thing to create a standard to limit a chemical, but it’s a totally different thing to put that regulation into practice. Every few years the EPA surveys drinking water across the country for 30 unregulated contaminants, Knappe said. It’s a “very, very small drop in the bucket” compared to the number of chemicals on the market, Knappe admitted. The science surrounding PFAS has “progressed rapidly” in the past few years and the EPA is using that new understanding to create new actions, according to an emailed statement from an EPA spokesperson. “Under the Biden-Harris administration, EPA has made addressing PFAS a top priority and is working together with communities across the country to effectively address these dangerous chemicals and protect public health,” according to the statement. EPA is in the midst of developing a multi-year strategy to create more public health protections around PFAS, according to the statement. The spokesperson added, “Our goal is to move as expeditiously as possible, while grounding all of our decisions in the law and a strong scientific foundation.”
A failure of government, not regulations
Regulatory change could be on the horizon after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the PFAS Action Act on July 21. The legislation would address PFAS on several levels by introducing new regulations and safeguards. The bill would require the EPA to designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, which is a federal law that governs how the EPA responds to environmental contaminations. The act would also propose national drinking water standards for PFAS, create clearer penalties for violations, create grant programs to help communities affected by PFAS contamination, designate PFAS as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and numerous other actions. Despite the bill’s new protections against PFAS, six out of 13 members of North Carolina’s delegation to the House voted against the legislation, including six of the state’s eight Republican representatives. Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC07) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC08), who represent the areas affected, voted in favor of the bill in addition to their Democratic colleagues. The baseline rule in the Clean Water Act is unless a group gets permission to dump substances into waterways, it’s illegal, Gisler said. Yet companies get around this rule bcause states and the EPA don’t enforce it. Companies come up with a new chemical, don’t tell anyone about it and simply start dumping it into waterways, Gisler said. If regulatory agencies don’t enforce the rules, then it doesn’t matter what regulations are passed. “If there were no police, then what would stop bank robbers? Nothing,” Gisler said. “Here we have laws, and we have the system. What we don’t have are agencies that are willing to enforce it.” The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has taken “proactive steps” to address the impacts of PFAS contamination across the state, according to a statement from the agency in response to Gisler and others’ comments.
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The GenX water crisis began 4 years ago.
Here’s a recap of the key moments so far
For more than 30 years, an untold amount of toxic, cancer-causing chemicals entered the Cape Fear River and private residents’ drinking wells from a chemical manufacturing plant outside Fayetteville, North Carolina. The chemicals that leaked from the plant are known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, and their manufacturers have allegedly known for decades that they are dangerous to humans. Yet Chemours and DuPont, the two manufacturers who owned the Fayetteville Works plant, contaminated the drinking water for more than 300,000 North Carolinians since as early as 1980. It wasn’t until 2017 when the StarNews broke the story, that the public became aware they were consuming toxic chemicals in dangerously high amounts. In the four years since the crisis began, Chemours has had to pay a $12 million fine to the state of North Carolina, and is now required by legal agreement to clean up its manufacturing facility and help some of the thousands of affected residents. But a vast majority of the 300,000 people affected by the GenX water crisis have yet to receive any assistance from Chemours or DuPont, and major questions remain over how many will ever get any help, what the chemicals will do to people long term and what stops the same crisis from happening again.
4 years later; Chemours, DuPont face 1,000+ lawsuits for part in GenX water crisis
In the four years since the GenX water crisis began, a vast majority of those affected haven’t gotten any assistance from Chemours or DuPont. Many have decided to sue as a result. Chemours and DuPont face more than 1,000 lawsuits for their part in the GenX water crisis, but North Carolina is just the tip of the iceberg for the two chemical makers when it comes to water contamination lawsuits.
4 years later; what stops the GenX crisis from happening again? Nothing, experts say
The field of chemistry, especially for commercial purposes, is a quickly expanding area, and there’s no realistic way for scientists or regulators to keep track of all the compounds companies come up with. While some progress has been made in terms of monitoring, environmentalists and experts say little has changed in terms of regulations that could prevent a similar crisis from happening.
4 years later; health impacts of GenX crisis remain a mystery

In the four years since the GenX crisis began in the Cape Fear region, scientists have established that North Carolinians who drank the water from the Cape Fear River had higher amounts of PFAS in their bodies compared to the average American. Yet little is known about what high amounts of PFAS exposure will do to people. Scientists have established some compounds such as PFOA, also known as C8, are possible human carcinogens, but other chemicals leaked into the river by Chemours aren’t as well understood by scientists. Scientists, including many in North Carolina, are making progress in determining the health impacts of PFAS on humans, but they say progress is slow and ultimately understanding the true effects of the crisis might never be possible.
Chemours, North Carolina and Cape Fear River Watch enter into consent order
In February 2019, Chemours, the state of North Carolina and Cape Fear River Watch entered into a consent order requiring the chemical manufacturer to reduce its chemical emissions and clean up its manufacturing facility outside Fayetteville. As part of the agreement, Chemours agreed to pay a $12 million fine to the state and make a $100 million investment in its operation to reduce PFAS emissions. The consent order also mandated Chemours help those around the Fayetteville Works site by installing filters in their homes if their drinking water wells were contaminated.
Chemours admits to polluting Cape Fear River since 1980s
In a public meeting with local and state officials, Chemours said it had been dumping unregulated chemicals into the Cape Fear River since as early as 1980. Despite the admission, Chemours didn’t commit to ceasing its chemical discharges into the public waterway. Chemours officials believed GenX ended up in the Cape Fear River as a result of a vinyl ether process that takes place on the massive industrial site.
StarNews breaks story on PFAS contamination
In June 2017, a StarNews investigation revealed that a chemical known commercially as GenX had been identified in the drinking water system of Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, which provides drinking water to approximately 200,000 people. The discovery of the PFAS compound, which at the time CFPUA couldn’t filter out, came after years of researchers finding the toxins in the Cape Fear River flowing down from the Fayetteville Works plant approximately 100 miles upstream from Wilmington. At the time, scientists had only tested CFPUA for the compound, but expected the contamination zone to spread as more areas were tested.
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Previously reported – October 2021

State to host PFAS, GenX remediation update
Residents can learn from the state next month the current actions underway to prevent and remediate per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, contamination at the Chemours Fayetteville Works Facility. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is hosting a remote community information session 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16. The public is invited to participate by phone or online. During the information session, there will be updates from NCDEQ’s air, water and waste management divisions about emission reduction requirements, upcoming permit actions, drinking water well sampling results and replacement water updates, according to the state. Officials from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will provide an overview of knowledge about potential health effects and how to reduce exposure. To dial in, call 1-415-655-0003 and use access code 2427 524 0753. To view the meeting online through WebEx at https://ncdenrits.webex.com/ncdenrits/j.php?MTID=m20e1854b10e617d07b77546e228cf776.
Event password is 1234. After the presentations by state representatives, community members who registered online before the meeting will have an opportunity to ask questions. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions through a chat feature in the web conferencing software. More information about the state’s investigation can be found at https://deq.nc.gov/news/hot-topics/genx-investigation. Information for residents can be found at https://deq.nc.gov/news/key-issues/genx-investigation/genx-information-residents.
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EPA to list PFAS as hazardous as part of new approach
The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday an approach to address pollution nationwide from the types of toxic “forever chemicals” that have been plaguing southeastern North Carolina for decades, a plan that includes listing certain of these substances as hazardous under the Superfund Act. EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced the three-year “PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024”
Monday to a handful gathered at North Carolina State University’s Lake Raleigh Fishing Pier in Raleigh. Gov. Roy Cooper, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Elizabeth Biser and Congresswoman Deborah Ross, D-North Carolina, joined Regan for the announcement. The event was streamed live on YouTube, but technical issues frequently interrupted the program for viewers. The strategic roadmap, the result of work by the EPA Council on PFAS that Regan put in place in April, focuses on three strategies: increase investments in research, leverage authorities to act now to restrict PFAS chemicals from being released into the environment, and accelerate the cleanup of PFAS contamination, EPA officials said. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, including GenX, are a group of man-made chemicals used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s. Research suggests that PFAS breaks down slowly and can accumulate in people, animals and the environment, which can lead to adverse health outcomes, according to the EPA. Regan has long been entrenched in managing PFAS. He was serving as the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality secretary when news broke June 7, 2017, that the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility had for years released PFAS into the Cape Fear River, the drinking water source for the Wilmington area. President Joe Biden selected Regan earlier this year to serve as the EPA administrator. Regan said that moving to designate certain PFAS as hazardous substances under the Superfund program would allow the agency to clean up contaminated sites and hold the responsible parties accountable by either having them perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-led cleanup work. “The Superfund program has successfully protected American communities by requiring polluters to pay to clean up the hazardous waste and pollution that they themselves have released in our environment,” he explained. “This strategy will leverage EPA existing authority to take bold action to restrict chemicals from entering the land, the air, the water, and land at all levels that are harmful to public health and the environment.” Regan said that the EPA will immediately broaden and accelerate the cleanup of PFAS contamination. When the agency becomes aware of a situation where PFAS poses a serious threat to the health of a community, “we will not hesitate to take swift action, strong enforcement to address the threat and hold polluters accountable, all across the country.” This strategy means EPA will work with other agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the Defense Department to identify facilities where PFAS have been used and are known to be a source of contamination. Other actions include a final toxicity assessment of the substance known as GenX, “which will ensure that no other community has to go through what the Cape Fear River communities had to endure,” Regan said. Biden has called for more than $10 billion in funding to help address PFAS contamination through the Build Back Better Agenda. “These critical resources will enable EPA and other federal agencies to scale up the research and work, so that they’re commiserate with the scale of the challenges that we all face together,” Regan said. Regan highlighted work taking place in North Carolina, noting that Biser, the DEQ secretary, had recently issued a $300,000 fine to Chemours for failing to meet its obligation to protect state residents. “Secretary Biser is setting the standard, this is the kind of accountability that we want to see all over the country, and that we will work with states to achieve,” Regan said. He noted that across the country, lessons have been learned that can be shared and that every level of government will need to step up to protect the public. He also highlighted the need for continued partnerships with advocacy groups and community activists. Regan said that some may question trust in the EPA because “so many communities have been let down before, time and time again,” adding that the public needs to see action. “I believe that the national strategy that we’re laying out shows and demonstrates strong and forceful action from EPA, a willingness to use all of our authority, all of our tools, all of our talent to tackle PFAS.” He said the EPA pledges to “hold the polluters accountable for the decades of unchecked devastation that they’ve caused.”

According to the EPA, the roadmap also includes the following:

    • Aggressive timelines to set enforceable drinking water limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act to ensure water is safe to drink in every community.
    • A hazardous substance designation under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as Superfund, to strengthen the ability to hold polluters financially accountable.
    • Timelines for action, whether it is data collection or rulemaking, on Effluent Guideline Limitations under the Clean Water Act for nine industrial categories.
    • A review of past actions on PFAS taken under the Toxic Substances Control Act to address those that are insufficiently protective.
    • Increased monitoring, data collection and research so that the agency can identify what actions are needed and when to take them.
    • A final toxicity assessment for GenX, which can be used to develop health advisories that will help communities make informed decisions to better protect human health and ecological wellness.
    • Continued efforts to build the technical foundation needed on PFAS air emissions to inform future actions under the Clean Air Act.

Cooper introduced Regan Monday afternoon, highlighting North Carolina’s and the nation’s need for the plan. “This roadmap commits the EPA to quickly setting enforceable drinking water limits for these chemicals, as well as giving us stronger tools, and giving them to communities, to protect people’s health and our environment. As we continue partnering with EPA on this and other important efforts. It’s critical that Congress pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal, and the larger budget resolution that includes funding to tackle PFAS contamination,” Cooper said. Biser pledged state cooperation. “We all have a lot of work ahead but with coordination at all levels of government, with our elected officials and our public servants, we can protect the communities and the residents throughout North Carolina, and across the nation,” she said.
Advocates react
The Southern Environmental Law Center has been at the forefront of litigation on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch against Chemours in North Carolina to stop GenX and other PFAS pollution. “SELC’s litigation under existing laws led to a consent order among Cape Fear River Watch, the state and Chemours to stop at least 99% of PFAS pollution that contaminated drinking water supplies for about 300,000 people in communities along the Cape Fear River,” the law center said in a statement. Geoff Gisler, a senior attorney with the law center and leader of its Clean Water Program, said in a statement that the roadmap charts a course to important new protections while using existing authority to protect families and communities plagued by PFAS pollution. “We have seen in North Carolina that when permitting agencies require industrial polluters to comply with existing laws, PFAS water pollution can be stopped at the source. EPA’s Roadmap pairs a plan for the future with the tools it currently has to stop ongoing contamination as the agency develops new standards,” Gisler said. “This roadmap, when fully implemented, could change the landscape in our efforts to protect communities from PFAS pollution. On this anniversary of the Clean Water Act, we’re a step closer to achieving its goals. While the roads to standards identified by EPA are necessarily long; the route to stopping ongoing pollution of our streams and rivers can and should be short.” Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del, issued a statement that he was encouraged by the EPA’s urgency in dealing with a public health threat. “This is truly a soup-to-nuts plan — one that commits to cleaning up PFAS in our environment while also putting protections in place to prevent more of these forever chemicals from finding their way into our lives. After the previous administration failed to follow through on its plan to address PFAS contamination, EPA’s new leadership promised action. I look forward to working with them on living up to this commitment.” Ken Cook, president of the national nonprofit Environmental Working Group, said that communities contaminated by PFAS had waited decades for action. “So, it’s good news that Administrator Regan will fulfill President Biden’s pledge to take quick action to reduce PFOA and PFOS in tap water, to restrict industrial releases of PFAS into the air and water, and to designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances to hold polluters accountable,” Cook said in a statement. “It’s been more than 20 years since EPA and EWG first learned that these toxic forever chemicals were building up in our blood and increasing our likelihood of cancer and other health harms. It’s time for action, not more plans, and that’s what this Administrator will deliver. As significant as these actions are, they are just the first of many actions needed to protect us from PFAS, as the Administrator has said.” Environmental Working Group Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber said that no one should have to worry about toxic chemicals in their tap water. “We’re grateful that Administrator Regan will fulfill President Biden’s pledge to address PFOA and PFOS in our tap water and will begin to turn off the tap of industrial PFAS pollution.” The Environmental Protection Network is an organization composed of nearly 550 former EPA career staff and political appointees from across the country. The organization’s Betsy Southerland, former director of the Office of Science and Technology in EPA’s Office of Water, called EPA’s approach to restrict or ban current PFAS uses a critical piece of the plan. “The actions detailed in the roadmap are essential first steps in reducing people’s exposure to these extremely dangerous chemicals, especially in communities already disproportionately impacted by pollution,” Southerland said. “While EPA will identify initial PFAS classes in the National Testing Strategy, the agency set tight deadlines for regulating individual PFAS chemicals in air, water, and waste, which will begin to drive stringent treatment requirements. EPA’s success in turning the roadmap into action will require the swift passage of a robust budget to give the agency adequate funding and staffing to get the job done.”
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EPA to publish toxicity assessment, set health advisories for GenX.
Here’s what it means.
The federal government plans to take steps to help public health officials determine the risks associated with a compound that has contaminated hundreds of wells around a Bladen County chemical plant and drinking water in Wilmington and other communities downstream from the facility. The Environmental Protection Agency will release a toxicity assessment “in the coming days” for GenX, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said Monday at an event in Raleigh. The announcement was part of a broader move by EPA to develop a “strategic roadmap” on how to deal with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). GenX belongs to the PFAS family of compounds, which are sometimes known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down easily. State officials have been investigating GenX since 2017, when the Wilmington Star-News reported that researchers had found the chemical and similar compounds in the Cape Fear River, downstream from the Chemours plant. The company agreed to a consent order that requires it to drastically reduce the amount of GenX it emits into the air. The Chemours plant in Bladen County makes GenX. The compound also is a byproduct of other processes there. GenX and similar compounds have been found in hundreds of wells around the Chemours facility, which is off N.C. 87 near the Cumberland County line. Lisa Randall, a Chemours spokeswoman, said in a statement that company officials have reviewed the EPA roadmap and commend the agency for “compiling a comprehensive, science-based approach.” “While additional detail is needed for many of the initiatives, Chemours is supportive of the framework approach and looks forward to engaging in the process moving forward,” she said. “We believe the voluntary stewardship program recommended by the agency could help achieve meaningful progress in reducing emissions while several of the initiatives work their way through the regulatory process.” Regan said on Monday that the toxicity assessment will help make sure other communities don’t have to go through what those in North Carolina have gone through.
Assessment intended to help health officials
A statement released by EPA officials said the assessment “can be used to develop health advisories that will help communities make informed decisions to better protect human health and ecological wellness.” The EPA plan says it will publish assessments on hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid and its ammonium salt, which the plan calls “GenX chemicals.” The compounds have been found in surface water, groundwater, drinking water, rainwater, and air emissions, and are known to impact human health and ecosystems, it says. “Scientists have observed liver and kidney toxicity, immune effects, hematological effects, reproductive and developmental effects, and cancer in animals exposed to GenX chemicals,” the EPA plan says. “Completing a toxicity assessment for GenX is essential to better understanding its effects on people and the environment. EPA can use this information to develop health advisories that will help communities make informed decisions to better protect human health and ecological wellness.” Chemours officials have said that the amount of GenX in wells around the plant is not harmful. Scott Faber is senior vice president for government affairs with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. He said he will be interested to see if the toxicity assessment causes the EPA to set a lifetime health advisory for GenX. The EPA has issued such advisories for two other PFAS compounds. They are perfluorooctanoic acid, which is known as PFOA, and perfluorooctane sulfonate, PFOS. PFOA, which also is called C8, was made at the Bladen County facility when it was owned by DuPont. Chemours is a spinoff from DuPont. The EPA could go further by setting mandatory drinking water standards for PFAS, Faber said. North Carolina also could set its own standards as some other states have done, he said. “That might be the quickest way to get GenX out of drinking water,” he said. The EPA plan also says toxicity assessments will be issued for five other PFAS compounds — PFBA, PFHxA, PFHxS, PFNA, and PFDA. Three of those compounds — PFHxA, PFNA, and PFDA — and PFOS were found in foam in a Cumberland County stream by state regulators this year. A Chemours spokeswoman said none of those compounds are associated with the plant’s processes. The EPA plan said that the agency expects to issue health advisories for GenX and another PFAS compound called PFBS next year. EPA published a toxicity assessment for PFBS in April. The health advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory but will help state and local officials determine if they need to take actions to address public health impacts, the plan said. “Health advisories offer a margin of protection by defining a level of drinking water concentration at or below which lifetime exposure is not anticipated to lead to adverse health effects,” it said. “They include information on health effects, analytical methodologies, and treatment technologies and are designed to protect all life stages.”
EPA roadmap sets timelines
The EPA plan also sets up timelines to set enforceable drinking water limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act, strengthens the ability to hold polluters accountable, and reviews previous actions by the agency regarding PFAS, according to the statement. The plan also calls for increased monitoring, data collection and research, it said. Faber said the plan represents the first time the administration of a president of either political party has set up timelines for which it can be held accountable. U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican who represents North Carolina’s 8th District, released a statement about the EPA roadmap. “I’m glad to see the EPA give these toxic forever chemicals the attention they deserve,” he said. “We need a comprehensive and reasonable approach to combat PFAS and I look forward to reviewing the EPA’s Roadmap.” Hudson thanked Regan for developing the initiative. “I will continue to work with the Administrator and my colleagues in Congress to make sure citizens near the Cape Fear River and throughout our region have access to safe drinking water,” he said. State Sen. Kirk deViere represents Cumberland County, which he called “ground zero for GenX contamination.” He said in a statement released Monday that he applauds the EPA action, but more must be done. “While this announcement provides a roadmap, we need timely action to provide clean water now to the thousands of residents of Cumberland County who have contaminated wells,” he said. “The ultimate solution cannot be simply offering bottles of water to residents or installing under-the-sink filters.” Bold leadership is needed by state officials and Chemours to be sure residents get clean water, deViere said. “This is a public health crisis and the time for drastic immediate improvement is now,” he said.
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How Chemical Companies Avoid Paying for Pollution
DuPont factories pumped dangerous substances into the environment. The company and its offspring have gone to great lengths to dodge responsibility.
One humid day this summer, Brian Long, a senior executive at the chemical company Chemours, took a reporter on a tour of the Fayetteville Works factory. Mr. Long showed off the plant’s new antipollution technologies, designed to stop a chemical called GenX from pouring into the Cape Fear River, escaping into the air and seeping into the ground water. There was a new high-tech filtration system. And a new thermal oxidizer, which heats waste to 2,000 degrees. And an underground wall — still under construction — to keep the chemicals out of the river. And more. “They’re not Band-Aids,” Mr. Long said. “They’re long-term, robust solutions.” Yet weeks later, North Carolina officials announced that Chemours had exceeded limits on how much GenX its Fayetteville factory was emitting. This month, the state fined the company $300,000 for the violations — the second time this year the company has been penalized by the state’s environmental regulator. GenX is part of a family of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. They allow everyday items — frying pans, rain jackets, face masks, pizza boxes — to repel water, grease and stains. Exposure to the chemicals has been linked to cancer and other serious health problems. To avoid responsibility for what many experts believe is a public health crisis, leading chemical companies like Chemours, DuPont and 3M have deployed a potent mix of tactics. They have used public charm offensives to persuade regulators and lawmakers to back off. They have engineered complex corporate transactions to shield themselves from legal liability. And they have rolled out a conveyor belt of scantly tested substitute chemicals that sometimes turn out to be just as dangerous as their predecessors. “You don’t have to live near Chemours or DuPont or 3M to have exposure to these things,” said Linda S. Birnbaum, the former head of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “It is in the water. It is in our food. It’s in our homes and in our house dust. And depending on where you live, it may be in our air.” PFAS substances are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down and can accumulate in the environment and in the blood and organs of people and animals. When the compounds get into water supplies, the effects can be devastating. Around Madison, Wis., residents are advised not to eat the fish from nearby lakes. In Wayland, Mass., residents are drinking bottled water because the tap water is contaminated. In northern Michigan, scientists found unsafe levels of PFAS in the rain. Most Americans have been exposed to at least trace amounts of the chemicals and have them in their blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research by chemical companies and academics has shown that exposure to PFAS has been linked to cancer, liver damage, birth defects and other health problems. GenX was supposed to be a safer alternative to earlier generations of the chemicals, but new studies are discovering similar health hazards. This week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was going to start requiring companies to test and publicly report the amount of PFAS in the products they make. It is an early step toward regulating the chemicals, though the E.P.A. has not set limits on their production or discharge. The E.P.A. administrator, Michael S. Regan, who announced the new rules, previously was the top environmental regulator in North Carolina, where he clashed with Chemours over its GenX pollution. “PFAS contamination has been devastating communities for decades,” Mr. Regan said. “I saw this firsthand in North Carolina.” The situation in Fayetteville is in many ways emblematic of the battles being waged in communities nationwide. Pollution from Fayetteville Works has shown up in drinking water as far as 90 miles away from the plant. Chemours argues that most of the pollution in North Carolina occurred long before it owned Fayetteville Works. DuPont, which built the factory in the 1960s, claims it can’t be held liable because of a corporate reorganization that took place several years ago. DuPont “does not produce” the chemicals in question, “and we are not in a position to comment on products that are owned by other independent, publicly traded companies,” said a DuPont spokesman, Daniel A. Turner. Both companies have downplayed the dangers of their chemicals and opted for occasional piecemeal fixes rather than comprehensive but costly solutions that would have protected the environment, according to interviews with scientists, lawyers, regulators, company officials and residents and a review of previously unreported documents detailing the industry’s tactics.
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Previously reported – November 2021

EPA assessment: GenX more toxic than thought; health effects might include liver, immune system
The Environmental Protection Agency released an assessment Monday showing that GenX, a chemical made at a Bladen County plant, is more toxic than previously believed. The toxicity assessment for hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid and its ammonium salt, which the EPA calls GenX chemicals, determined a daily ingestion level at which a person is unlikely to face adverse health effects, according to the EPA website. During a similar review in 2018, agency officials set that chronic “reference dose” at a level more than 26 times this year’s assessment. The EPA’s review talked about possible health effects. “Animal studies following oral exposure have shown health effects including on the liver, kidneys, the immune system, development of offspring, and an association with cancer,” it said. “Based on available information across studies of different sexes, life stages, and durations of exposure, the liver appears to be particularly sensitive from oral exposure to GenX chemicals.” EPA officials say the assessment will help public health officials determine the risks associated with GenX. The Chemours company manufactures GenX at its plant in Bladen County. The chemical also is a byproduct of other processes there. GenX belongs to a family of compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The compounds are sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down easily. The Chemours company manufactures GenX at its plant in Bladen County. The chemical also is a byproduct of other processes there. GenX belongs to a family of compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The compounds are sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down easily. State officials have been investigating GenX since 2017, when the Wilmington Star-News reported that researchers had discovered the chemical and similar compounds in the Cape Fear River, downstream from the Chemours plant. The company agreed to a consent order that requires it to drastically reduce the amount of GenX it is emitting into the air.
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EPA releases final GenX human health toxicity assessment
The release Monday of the Environmental Protection Agency’s final human health toxicity assessment for GenX chemicals represents a key step in advancing the scientific understanding of these toxins and their effects on human health, officials said Monday. Across the country, including in southeastern North Carolina, GenX chemicals, part of the per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substance, or PFAS, group, have been found in surface water, groundwater, drinking water, rainwater, and the air. The final GenX chemicals toxicity assessment is a step closer to developing a national drinking water health advisory for GenX chemicals, which the agency committed to publishing in Spring 2022 as part of the PFAS Roadmap that EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan’s announced the PFAS Roadmap last week. The roadmap details the whole-of-agency approach to addressing PFAS. During his announcement Oct. 19 he said to expect the release of this final assessment. “Research establishes a foundation for informed decision making and it is one of the central strategies of EPA’s PFAS Roadmap,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox in a statement. “This science-based final assessment marks a critical step in the process of establishing a national drinking water health advisory for GenX chemicals and provides important information to our partners that can be used to protect communities where these chemicals are found.” The final assessment for GenX chemicals looks at the potential human health effects associated with oral exposure. The Southern Environmental Law Center represents Cape Fear River Watch in litigation to stop pollution into the Cape Fear River from the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility in North Carolina. News broke of the pollution in June 2017, while Regan was North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality’s secretary. The final human health toxicity assessment for GenX underscores the importance of regulating PFAS as a class of chemicals and the need to stop harmful pollution at its source under existing laws, according to the center. “Today’s toxicity assessment is further confirmation that the more we learn about these chemicals, the more we learn that they must be treated as a class; no community should have to suffer from harmful PFAS as we wait for research to confirm their toxicity,” said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney and leader of the Clean Water Program at the Southern Environmental Law Center who led litigation against Chemours in North Carolina. “This more stringent GenX toxicity assessment is why it’s so vital to our families and communities that DEQ, and state agencies nationwide, must impose stringent limits on PFAS using existing authority when issuing water permits to polluters.” The law center’s litigation led to a consent order among Cape Fear River Watch, the state and Chemours to stop at least 99% of PFAS pollution at its source that contaminated the Cape Fear River, according to the release.
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Chemours responsible for New Hanover contamination, NC DEQ says

State officials have determined Chemours is responsible for contaminating New Hanover County’s water supply. The company, which has a plant on the Cape Fear River, also is responsible for contaminating groundwater monitoring wells in New Hanover County and also might be responsible for contaminations in Pender, Columbus and Brunswick counties, according to a statement released Wednesday by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. DEQ is requiring Chemours to “assess the extent of contamination in downstream communities to include well sampling and provision of replacement drinking water supplies,” according to the statement. DEQ Secretary Elizabeth S. Biser said contamination from Chemours extends to multiple communities down the Cape Fear River. The company’s actions to address the communication must reach those communities, she said. “DEQ will continue to take the necessary steps to provide relief to affected North Carolinians as the science and regulations require,” she said.
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State to force Chemours to test downstream wells for PFAS

The state is requiring Chemours to take more action to address GenX and PFAS contamination into the Cape Fear River from the Fayetteville Works facility, especially that affecting private well owners. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which includes GenX, are widely used, man-made toxins often called “forever chemicals” that break down very slowly over time and build up in humans, animals and the environment, according to the EPA. Studies show that exposure to some of these chemicals may be linked to harmful health effects. First, Chemours must assess the extent of contamination in communities downstream, to include well sampling and provision of replacement drinking water supplies, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality officials said Wednesday. Second, Chemours is required to review existing well sampling in communities surrounding the Fayetteville Works facility to determine additional eligibility for whole-house filtration and public water, in light of the revised Toxicity Assessment for GenX from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “The contamination from Chemours extends down the Cape Fear River into multiple communities and Chemours’ actions to address that contamination must reach those communities as well,” said DEQ Secretary Elizabeth S. Biser in a statement. “DEQ will continue to take the necessary steps to provide relief to affected North Carolinians as the science and regulations require.” Copies of the notifications to Chemours are online. DEQ officials said the department has determined that Chemours is responsible for contamination of groundwater monitoring wells and water supply wells in New Hanover County and possibly Pender, Columbus, and Brunswick counties. “Chemours is required to expand the off-site assessment required under the 2019 Consent Order to determine the extent of the contamination. Chemours must also conduct sampling of private drinking water wells to identify residents who may be eligible for replacement drinking water supplies. Chemours must submit plans to DEQ for approval,” officials said. Regarding the second action, officials said Chemours had been advised that the EPA will be releasing a federal drinking water health advisory level for GenX in the coming months. The 2019 Consent Order requires Chemours to provide replacement permanent drinking water to private wells with “detections of GenX compounds in exceedance of 140 ng/L (nanogram per liter), or any applicable health advisory, whichever is lower.” In advance of a likely EPA health advisory level below 140 nanogram per liter, DEQ is requiring Chemours to review existing well sampling data to identify residents who would be entitled to public water or whole house filtration under a revised health advisory level. Chemours must revise the assessment of public water feasibility for all affected residents under a lower health advisory level. DEQ is also requiring Chemours to create a plan to transition residents who have previously received reverse osmosis systems based on GenX results to either public water or whole-house filtrations systems as appropriate under a lower GenX health advisory level. “I want to thank DEQ and Secretary Biser for taking these steps to require action from Chemours, so they take responsibility for the PFAS contamination they have caused in our community,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman in a statement.
“It is important for our residents to be provided with the same protections as those who are close to the Chemours plant, and that means testing and monitoring the groundwater wells in our county and providing bottled water and then a permanent filtration or connection to a public water supply if elevated PFAS are detected,” she said. “New Hanover County has advocated to be included in the Consent Order, and today’s actions are a positive step towards that. We will continue to do all we can to support DEQ’s efforts and ensure our residents have access to safe drinking water.” Lisa Randall, regional communications lead for Chemours, provided the following statement on behalf of the company: “Chemours is a part of the solution to addressing PFAS contamination in North Carolina, and we will continue working with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), as we have been for several years, to move forward with efforts to address PFAS found in the environment related to our Fayetteville Works manufacturing site. We have worked closely with NCDEQ on implementation of on-site and off-site programs, including a private well sampling program, as part of the consent order agreement between Chemours, Cape Fear River Watch and the state of North Carolina. “We are continuing to review the NCDEQ correspondence we just received and will follow-up with the agency for further clarification of their correspondence.”
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