DEQ takes action to stop additional Chemours discharge based on EPA report

Raleigh, NC

At the Department of Environmental Quality’s urging, Chemours will capture additional industrial wastewater with fluorinated compounds instead of releasing it into the Cape Fear River. The compounds were identified in an EPA report as coming from manufacturing areas inside the company’s Fayetteville Works facility.

The EPA report released today by DEQ includes analysis of industrial process wastewater samples DEQ collected from manufacturing areas within the Fayetteville Works facility on Sept. 18. The water samples were tested for GenX, two Nafion byproducts and three other fluorinated compounds. DEQ staff worked closely with scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency who analyzed the samples for DEQ and provided the report based on their findings.

The EPA report found that wastewater collected inside the Fayetteville Works facility’s manufacturing areas showed concentrations of GenX that ranged from 265 parts per trillion to 8,860 parts per trillion. Concentrations of Nafion byproduct 1 ranged from not being detected to 30,300 parts per trillion. For Nafion byproduct 2, the estimated concentrations ranged from 7,400 parts per trillion to 34,800 parts per trillion.

Based on the report’s findings, DEQ ordered Chemours to capture and divert the industrial process wastewater from the manufacturing areas so the wastewater can be taken out of state for incineration. Chemours will continue to capture and remove GenX from other areas inside the facility as it had been doing at DEQ’s request since last summer.

“We are leaving no stone unturned to ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect peoples’ drinking water,” said Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “Based on what we learned from these test results, we required the company to stop discharging chemicals of concern identified in the facility. This is another step in our ongoing work to stop possible contaminants at their source.”

As directed by DEQ, Chemours agreed this summer to stop the discharge of GenX from areas where it was known to be present. Since that time, concentrations of the chemical in the Cape Fear River have dropped below the state’s provisional health goal at all finished drinking water sites. As part of its investigation, DEQ conducted additional testing at three manufacturing areas inside the Chemours facility to determine if there were other points of release for GenX or other fluorinated compounds within the plant.

The results released today showed the presence of GenX, the two Nafion byproducts and three other fluorinated compounds in manufacturing areas of the Chemours facility and prompted DEQ to take further actions to stop the release of additional fluorinated compounds identified inside the plant. The EPA noted that test results for the Nafion byproducts and the three other compounds reflect estimations rather than exact concentrations because no lab standard exists for these chemicals.

DEQ will take appropriate steps if the company fails to meet the state’s demands to stop releasing GenX and other fluorinated compounds into the Cape Fear River. DEQ continues to evaluate all of Chemours’ waste streams in its review of Chemours’ application to renew the company’s wastewater discharge permit.

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