This story was updated with comments from DEQ at 9:52 a.m. May 8
CHAPEL HILL — The Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of the nonprofit Cape Fear River Watch, is moving to stop the discharge of GenX and related compounds from Chemours’ Fayetteville Works Facility.
The law center, announced Monday that it had requested that the Department of Environmental Quality use its existing authority to require Chemours to immediately stop all emissions and discharges of GenX and chemically related compounds. SELC also notified Chemours of its intent to sue for violations of the Clean Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act for its GenX pollution from its Fayetteville Works Facility.
“After months of study and testing by DEQ, Environmental Protection Agency, and other researchers, we now know that Chemours has defiled the air, water, and land at a historic level,” Geoff Gisler, senior attorney with the SELC said in the release. “The first step in healing those wounds is to stop the pollution at the source; DEQ must act now to protect the families and communities burdened by Chemours’ ongoing pollution.”
SELC argues in its filing with the state that DEQ can and should order Chemours to immediately stop discharging the toxic PFAS compounds, including GenX, because the company’s continued contamination of air and water is causing imminent danger to public health and safety.
“The hundreds of thousands of people that drink water contaminated by Chemours’ toxic discharge are outraged,” said Kemp Burdette, Cape Fear Riverkeeper, in a statement. “The State needs to step in and stop this irresponsible company from continuing to harm our health, our water and our air.”
A DEQ spokeswoman said Tuesday that the agency will review SELC’s petition thoroughly and make a decision on the request. “It appears SELC’s petition is primarily based on the multiple enforcement actions DEQ has already taken against Chemours to fight the company’s emissions of GenX and protect North Carolinians’ water and air,” DEQ’s Megan Thorpe said.
DEQ enforcement actions against Chemours to date are listed on the DEQ website.
In addition to petitioning DEQ, the law center announced that it has notified Chemours its continued release of these toxins into the state’s water, air and soil through its stack emissions, unlined pits and wastewater ditches, contaminated equipment, leaks and spills violates both the Clean Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act. If its violations are not stopped within 60 days, the conservation groups will file suit against Chemours in federal court to stop the pollution.
DuPont and its spinoff company Chemours have for close to four decades released GenX and other per- and poly-fluoroalkyl, or PFAS, compounds into North Carolina waters.
In the past year, GenX has been found in at least 690 private drinking water wells up to 5.5 miles away from the Chemours’ facility.