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DEQ to convene science panel to address chromium groundwater performance standard on coal ash


DEQ Secretary Michael Regan is directing a state panel to provide science-based guidance that can be used to address the recently announced performance standard for chromium in groundwater.

Regan is expanding the scope of the Secretary’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) on Toxic Air Pollutants to advise the agency and the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission (EMC) on any appropriate revisions to the performance standard for chromium. Scientific experts with DEQ and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services will work together with the panel as it evaluates new health data.

DEQ issued performance standards for chromium and other coal ash-related constituents based on what is required by state groundwater regulations and the Coal Ash Management Act. Duke Energy has until October 2018 to install the filtration systems in eligible homes near Duke Energy’s 14 coal ash facilities.

The performance standards DEQ issued for water filtration systems are based on enforceable, regulatory concentrations of a contaminant. DHHS has established a separate health goal to help private well owners near coal ash ponds understand potential health risks and options to reduce their exposure. The health goal is a non-enforceable concentration representing the level at which no more than one case of cancer per 1 million people would be anticipated over an entire lifetime of exposure. Because health goals are not regulatory, they can be updated frequently and rapidly with new relevant health science data.

“We recognize the widespread community interest and concerns about these performance standards,” Regan said.

“In conjunction with the issuance of the performance standards, I am directing the Secretary’s Science Advisory Board to evaluate more recent health data on hexavalent chromium and provide a public forum to address these important issues and provide recommendations that could result in any necessary changes to state groundwater standards.

“Our goal is to ensure that every family in North Carolina has access to safe, clean drinking water.”

The SAB is made up of experts in toxicology, epidemiology and other public health disciplines. Regan soon will appoint new members based on their scientific expertise. The panel will be asked to make recommendations for any appropriate changes to water quality regulations to the EMC, which has the authority to adopt new groundwater standards. This science panel will conduct business in an open forum to allow for public input as they are considering the latest research and will offer much-needed peer review of available scientific data. At the conclusion of the SAB review, DEQ will make a final decision on the performance standard for chromium.


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