HHS News

DEQ Statement on Chemours Appeal of the NPDES Permit

The NPDES permit for the treatment system is part of the larger barrier wall remediation project to substantially reduce PFAS entering the Cape Fear River and impacting downstream communities.   Chemours is required to fulfill its obligations under the Consent Order and reduce the amount of contaminated groundwater reaching the Cape Fear River from the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility.

The Consent Order Addendum specifies a minimum reduction of 99% for the treatment system. DEQ expects Chemours to take all necessary steps to minimize its PFAS impacts on the environment. Pursuing litigation threatens to delay implementation beyond the Consent Order deadline of March 2023 and extend the ongoing contamination reaching the river and impacting downstream residents.

Get your free At-Home COVID test kits from Pender County Health

Pender County Health Department Provides at-Home COVID-19 Test at No Charge

 

Pender County Health Department is currently offering free at-home COVID-19 test kits.  Test kits are available for pickup with a limit of four per person.  Visit either of our locations:

  • Pender County Health Department- 803 S. Walker Street, Burgaw
  • Hampstead Annex- 15060 NC Hwy 17, Hampstead
  • Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. while supplies last.

At-home COVID-19 test kits help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by providing you with results in minutes.

 

When to use your at-home testing kits:

  • You have any COVID-19 symptoms
  • You were exposed to someone with COVID-19. NOTE:  Test at least 5 days after close contact.  The last day of contact is Day 0.
  • You are not up-to date for COVID-19 vaccinations
  • You are going to an indoor event, gathering, or traveling
  • You were asked by your school, workplace, or health care provider to test.

 

If your test is Positive:

  • You are encouraged to report the result to your health care provider or to the health department.
  • You should follow CDC Isolation Guidelines cdc.gov Quarantine and Isolation
  • Seek medical care immediately if symptoms worsen or you have trouble breathing.

 

Resources for COVID-19 at-home test kits:

 

Questions?   Contact Pender County Health Department at 1-910-259-1230

at-home covid19 test availability

Pender County Health Department Provides at-Home COVID-19 Test at No Charge

BURGAW – Pender County Health Department offers at-home COVID-19 test kits at no charge. Test kits are available for pickup with a limit of four per person.  Having COVID-19 test kits available in your home plays an important role in helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 and provides you with results in minutes.

Here are a few tips on when to use your at-home testing kits:

  • You have any Covid-19 symptoms
  • You were exposed to someone with COVID-19
  • You are going to an indoor event or gathering

To pick up your at-home test kits, visit either of our locations:

  • Pender County Health Department 803 S. Walker Street, Burgaw
  • Hampstead Annex 15060 NC Hwy 17, Hampstead

Hours are:

  • Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. while supplies last.

If you complete an at-home test and receive a positive result, the CDC strongly encourages everyone to report any positive results to their health care provider or their local health department.

 

Households may also order up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests by visiting Covid.gov/tests.

 

If you have any question or need additional information, please contact Pender County Health Department at 910-259-1230 or visit our website.

Chemours Draft Permit to Address Groundwater Contamination

Permit is part of remediation plan to substantially reduce PFAS entering the Cape Fear River

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Division of Water Resources (DWR) will hold public hearings on June 21 and 23 to accept comments on a proposed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) wastewater permit, for a groundwater treatment system at the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility. The draft permit would substantially reduce the PFAS entering the Cape Fear River via contaminated groundwater which is currently entering the river untreated.

IN PERSON

Date:                          Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at 6 p.m.

Location:                    Cape Fear Community College, 411 N. Front Street, Wilmington

Union Station, First Floor Auditorium

Register:                     Speaker registration opens at 5 p.m., onsite signup sheet

 

REMOTE/ONLINE

Date:                           Thursday, June 23, 2022, at 6.p.m.

Meeting Access:         WebEx link: https://ncdenrits.webex.com/ncdenrits/onstage/g.php?MTID=e6a3cebefc6af2776f229c3d4f2c74da9

Event number:            2421 589 1484

Event password:         NCDEQ

Audio conference:      US TOLL +1-415-655-0003, Access code: 2421 589 1484

Register to Speak:       Speaker registration by 12 noon, June 23, at https://forms.office.com/g/YEqDLDDDp7

Please contact Peter Johnston if you have issues registering online at 919-707-9011 or email peter.johnston@ncdenr.gov.

To submit comments by email, send to publiccomments@ncdenr.gov with CHEMOURS noted in the subject line by 5 p.m. June 24, 2022. Public comments may also be mailed to Wastewater Permitting, Attn: Chemours Permit, 1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C., 27699-1617.

The draft permit and fact sheet are available to view online.

Chemours has been prohibited from discharging PFAS-contaminated process wastewater from its manufacturing operations into the Cape Fear River since 2017. However, historic operations at the facility have caused significant groundwater contamination at the site. The draft NPDES permit (NC0090042) allows only the discharge of treated water associated with groundwater remediation efforts, primarily treated groundwater, some surface water and stormwater. It would not allow the discharge of wastewater from Chemours manufacturing processes.

As outlined in the 2020 Addendum to the Consent Order, Chemours is required to address groundwater contamination by installing an underground barrier wall that will run more than a mile alongside the Cape Fear River. This wall will intercept contaminated groundwater from the facility before it reaches the river, and a series of extraction wells will pump the captured groundwater to a treatment system. The draft permit requires that the treatment system remove at least 99% of PFAS from the pumped groundwater before it enters the river. Without this treatment system intervention and accompanying discharge permit, this heavily contaminated groundwater would continue to flow to the river untreated and continue to impact downstream water supplies.

State agencies responding to release of EPA health advisories for four PFAS compounds

RALEIGH – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released health advisory values for four PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances): GenX, PFOA, PFOS and PFBS. Today’s EPA actions are based on the best available science and consider lifetime exposure to these PFAS compounds. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) are moving quickly to evaluate the state’s drinking water supplies based on these health advisories and determine appropriate next steps to assess and reduce exposure risks. 

In step with the DEQ Action Strategy for PFAS, DEQ will prioritize actions to protect communities based upon the number of people impacted, concentration of PFAS in the drinking water, and the impacts to vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.  

GenX  

Since 2017, North Carolina has taken decisive action to address GenX contamination originating from the Chemours Fayetteville Works Facility. For GenX, the EPA set a final lifetime health advisory level of 10 parts per trillion (ppt), which would replace the state’s provisional drinking water health goal of 140 ppt developed by NCDHHS in 2018.  The Consent Order requires Chemours to provide whole house filtration for private drinking water wells with GenX concentrations above a health advisory.  The federal health advisory will now replace the state provisional drinking water health goal and DEQ estimates more than 1700 additional private well users will now be eligible for whole house filtration or connection to a public water supply.  DEQ is directing Chemours to proceed with the implementation of the health advisory and additional information will be provided to residents about their options and next steps as soon as possible. 

PFOA and PFOS 

While GenX contamination is specific to the Cape Fear River Basin in North Carolina, PFOS and PFOA were commonly used nationwide for decades in a variety of consumer goods and industrial processes.  PFOA and PFOS, often called ‘legacy compounds’ have been largely phased out of current use and replaced by GenX and PFBS.   

EPA issued interim updated health advisories of 0.004 ppt for PFOA and 0.02 ppt for PFOS, with a minimum reporting level of 4 ppt.  These interim advisories replace the 2016 provisional health advisory of 70 ppt for both compounds.  According to EPA, there is an increased risk of adverse health effects, including effects on the immune system, the cardiovascular system, human development (e.g., decreased birth weight), and cancer, when drinking water with compounds above the health advisory over a lifetime.  

EPA recommends water systems that measure any levels of PFOA or PFOS take steps to inform customers, undertake additional sampling to assess the level, scope and source of contamination, and examine steps to limit exposure.  At this time, EPA is not recommending bottled water or providing alternative water sources, based solely on concentrations of these chemicals in drinking water that exceed the health advisory levels.  

Data on the PFOA and PFOS levels in North Carolina’s private drinking water wells and public water systems are limited.  However, available sampling indicates the presence of one or both compounds in multiple public water systems across the state. DEQ and DHHS are evaluating the available data in light of these new health advisories to identify potentially affected communities and take action to address impacts to North Carolina residents.  DHHS will ensure guidance on health impacts related to these forever chemicals is available to the public and remains up-to-date. Specific health information can be found in the EPA’s health advisories or in the NCDHHS PFAS fact sheet and GenX fact sheet.  

Most exposures occur by consuming food or water containing PFAS. The EPA health advisories account for margin of safety for other potential exposure sources, such as through skin (dermal), breathing (inhalation), dietary exposure, consumer products, etc. You can lower the risks of health impacts by using home or point of use water filters or alternate water sources if PFAS are above health advisory levels in your drinking water. Information on testing and filtration can be found in the NCDHHS PFAS Testing and Filtration Resources Fact Sheet.  

While health advisories are not enforceable regulatory standards, EPA plans to propose federal drinking water standards for both PFOA and PFOS.  DEQ is evaluating the appropriate next steps to assist communities, well owners, and water systems in advance of the proposed federal drinking water standards.  

PFBS
For PFBS, EPA set a health advisory at 2,000 ppt.  PFBS has not been found in significant concentrations in sampling to date in North Carolina.  

DEQ and DHHS will plan additional outreach for affected residents in the weeks ahead.  Specific health information related to PFAS from DHHS, including fact sheets, can be found online here. Additional DEQ information about PFAS, including the DEQ Action Strategy for PFAS, is available here. 

DHHS Anticipated Public Question Responses V2
GenX_Factsheet_6.15.22
PFAS_Factsheet_6.15.22
PFAS_TestingFiltration

Warning signs of heat illness

The record temperatures we are experiencing can be dangerous to the health of all ages, as well as pets. The Pender County Health Department shared this warning regarding heat illness.

 

DEQ directs Chemours to expand its interim sampling and drinking water plan for the Lower Cape Fear River area

RALEIGH – After a comprehensive review, the Department of Environmental Quality has sent a letter today directing Chemours to expand the scope and detail of its proposed interim sampling and drinking water plan for New Hanover, Brunswick, Columbus, and Pender counties.

“The interim plan is insufficient and does not include the necessary steps to adequately determine the extent of Chemours’ contamination in the downstream communities,” said DEQ Secretary Elizabeth S. Biser. “Chemours must contact residents directly, sample more wells, and proceed more quickly to address contaminated drinking water.”

The interim sampling plan was submitted on February 1, in response to the department’s November 3, 2021 Notice. In that notice, DEQ determined that Chemours is responsible for groundwater contamination in New Hanover County and potentially Pender, Columbus, and Brunswick counties. DEQ directed Chemours to expand the off-site assessment required under the 2019 Consent Order to determine the extent of the contamination, and conduct sampling of private drinking water wells to identify residents who may be eligible for replacement drinking water supplies.

DEQ has identified seven areas in which the interim sampling and drinking water plan is deficient, and is requiring Chemours to submit a revised plan within 30 days. The revisions must include, but are not limited to:

  • Expanding eligibility criteria of private wells to be sampled.
  • Starting sampling within 45 days.
  • Directly contacting eligible private well owners.
  • Using a data-driven approach to broaden private well sampling, not limited to 200 per county and not limited to residents who have requested sampling.
  • Including other property types for sampling where a private well is used as the primary source of drinking water, including schools, day care centers, churches, mobile home parks and others.
  • Providing bottled water to impacted residents within three days of receipt of sampling results and providing replacement drinking water supplies as required in Paragraphs 19 and 20 of the Consent Order.
  • Describing a proposed step-out or other approach to drinking water sampling based on the received results.

The response letter and related documents are available online. Residents in the four counties of the lower Cape Fear River basin can request well sampling by calling 910-678-1100.

Rabies detected in bobcat; protect your pets

An important message from Pender County Health Department:
Pender County Health Department has been notified that a bobcat has tested positive for rabies. While the animal was captured in a sparsely populated area off Highway 421, residents are encouraged to avoid contact with wildlife. Do not feed feral cats, dogs, or wildlife. Anyone that sees a wild animal acting strangely or aggressive toward people should contact the Pender County Sheriff’s Department, Animal Control staff at (910) 259-1349.
When rabies is detected in wildlife, it is very important that pet owners assure their pet has a current rabies vaccination. Rabies vaccinations are available at the Pender County Animal Shelter for $5. For details call 910 259-1484.

State to host public information session on Nov. 16 about PFAS/GenX at Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will host a community information session remotely via teleconference Tuesday, November 16, about current actions to prevent and remediate PFAS contamination at the Chemours Fayetteville Works Facility. The public is invited to participate by phone or online.

Topics will include updates from DEQ’s air, water and waste management divisions about emission reduction requirements, upcoming permit actions, drinking water well sampling results and replacement water updates. Officials from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services will provide an overview of knowledge about potential health effects and how to reduce exposure.

Event title:  GenX community information meeting

Date and Time: Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 at 6 p.m.

Phone:  US TOLL +1-415-655-0003, Access code: 2427 524 0753

WebEx Link:
https://ncdenrits.webex.com/ncdenrits/j.php?MTID=m20e1854b10e617d07b77546e228cf776

Event Password: 1234

Following the presentations by DEQ and DHHS representatives, community members who pre-registered 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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