Settlement ends Chemours challenge of permit to reduce PFAS entering the Cape Fear River

RALEIGH- An agreement signed today ends litigation without changing the discharge permit issued to Chemours for the treatment of contaminated groundwater to significantly reduce PFAS entering the Cape Fear River.  

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) reached an agreement with Chemours to end the litigation over the permit issued by DEQ on September 15, 2022. Last month, Chemours filed a petition to challenge the permit. CFPUA intervened to support the permit.

Today’s agreement does not change the final permit conditions and includes measures by which Chemours will proceed toward compliance with the final PFAS permit limits. Those limits take effect six months after discharge from the treatment system begins. In the agreement, Chemours agrees to take specific steps and provide monthly reports on its progress during the six-month optimization period.  Chemours also agrees to dismiss its petition for a contested case hearing on the permit.

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (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.  Currently, contaminated groundwater from the facility site flows untreated directly into the Cape Fear River. This project is designed to reduce the largest ongoing source of PFAS at the Chemours facility that contaminates the river and reaches downstream water intakes. The project must be operational by March 15, 2023, under the terms of the Consent Order.  DEQ expects Chemours to take necessary actions to comply with the permit conditions and the Consent Order and meet its obligations to clean up the PFAS contamination impacting thousands of residents in at least eight counties and provide them with alternate water.  DEQ will continue to hold Chemours accountable for the cleanup and for preventing future impacts to North Carolinians.

The agreement is available online here.

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.

REMINDER: DEQ to hold community meeting October 11 on the Lower Cape Fear River private well sampling

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will hold a community information meeting on Tuesday, October 11, at Roland-Grise Middle School in Wilmington. DEQ will share updates on private well sampling underway for PFAS contamination in New Hanover, Brunswick, Columbus and Pender counties.  Staff will also answer questions from the public about the private well sampling and alternate water supplies. 

When: Tuesday, October 11 at 6 p.m.

Where: Roland-Grise Middle School Auditorium

              4412 Lake Ave, Wilmington, NC 28403

              Speaker sign-up will be available upon arrival at the meeting.

At DEQ’s direction, Chemours is sampling for PFAS contamination in eligible private drinking water wells downstream of the Fayetteville Works Facility. Chemours is required to provide alternate water supplies to residents whose wells exceed specific action levels.

To have your well sampled, call Chemours at (910) 678-1100. Messages to the Chemours call line are monitored during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.); Chemours should respond within 24-to-48 hours starting on the next business day. Chemours is also sending letters to well owners/residents requesting information about primary drinking water sources and offering sampling.

Additional well sampling information for residents is available on the DEQ website:  https://deq.nc.gov/news/key-issues/genx-investigation/well-sampling-information-lower-cape-fear-area-residents.

Healthy Pender Survey 2022

Pender County Health Department and partner organizations are conducting a survey to learn more about the health and topics of concern among the residents living in Pender County. We will use the results of this survey to help address major community health issues in our county.
This survey is completely voluntary and should take about 10-15 minutes to complete. Your answers will be completely confidential and the information you give us will not be linked to you in any way.

https://unc.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8oGDg4dXu6dT6MC?Source=email

DEQ to hold community meeting October 11 on the Lower Cape Fear River private well sampling

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will hold a community information meeting on Tuesday, October 11, at Roland-Grise Middle School in Wilmington. DEQ will share updates on private well sampling underway for PFAS contamination in New Hanover, Brunswick, Columbus, and Pender counties.  Staff will also answer questions from the public about the private well sampling and alternate water supplies.

When: Tuesday, October 11 at 6 p.m.

Where: Roland-Grise Middle School Auditorium

4412 Lake Ave, Wilmington, NC 28403

Speaker sign-up will be available upon arrival at the meeting.

 

At DEQ’s direction, Chemours is sampling for PFAS contamination in eligible private drinking water wells downstream of the Fayetteville Works Facility. Chemours is required to provide alternate water supplies to residents whose wells exceed specific action levels.

To have your well sampled, call Chemours at (910) 678-1100. Messages to the Chemours call-line are monitored during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.); Chemours should respond within 24-to-48 hours starting on the next business day. Chemours is also sending letters to well owners/residents requesting information about primary drinking water sources and offering sampling.

Additional well sampling information for residents is available on the DEQ website:  https://deq.nc.gov/news/key-issues/genx-investigation/well-sampling-information-lower-cape-fear-area-residents

Pender County offers bivalent COVID booster

BURGAW – The Bivalent COVID booster, which provides additional protection against the Omicron strain, is available from the Pender County Health Department.

“The bivalent booster is recommended for adults even if you have had all four COVID vaccine shots,” said Carolyn Moser, Director of Pender County Health and Human Services. “It contains the protection of the ‘original’ boosters along with added protection against the Omicron strain. It offers another layer of protection that previous boosters did not.”

Citizens may receive the bivalent booster two months after the primary series is complete or two months after their last booster dose. The CDC is recommending people receive the booster when they qualify.

“The COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, continue to save countless lives and prevent the most serious outcomes (hospitalization and death) of COVID-19,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. “As we head into fall and begin to spend more time indoors, we strongly encourage anyone eligible to consider receiving a booster dose with a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine to provide better protection against currently circulating variants.”

“If you have questions about your specific health condition and receiving the bivalent booster it is best to talk to your primary care doctor or specialist provider about your specific situation,” said Moser.

All three COVID vaccines are available from the Pender County Health Department. The health department has two locations to serve the area – 803 S. Walker St. in Burgaw or 15060 US Hwy 17 in Hampstead. For questions call 910-259-1230.

 

Where do you want to go? RideMICRO

Pender County residents and visitors have an additional travel option. It’s called RideMICRO. And it is perfect for a resident who needs to get to a doctor’s appointment, college classes, or shopping. It’s perfect for tourists who aren’t certain where they are going, or don’t have a rental car large enough for the multi-generational vacation.

“RideMICRO is a WAVE Transit service,” said Brianna D’Itri, the Mobility Manager at the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority. “RideMICRO functions like an UBER or a taxi, only cheaper.”

Called “MICRO” for short, the service area includes Pender, Brunswick, and New Hanover counties.

“This allows us more connectivity,” said D’Itri.

While MICRO is public transit, it isn’t your grandparents’ city bus or shuttle bus. MICRO uses smaller vans and a Suburban to get riders from point A to point B.

“MICRO is divided into zones,” said D’Itri. “Pender County is Zone 2.”

Riders can book transportation to and from Pender County daily or just for special occasions.

“Some of our riders going to dialysis, or just grocery shopping or to work or school,” said D’Itri, adding that the youngest daily rider is a 14-year-old who attends college classes.

D’itri said passengers use MICRO for a ride to and from the airport, which saves on parking fees and taxi fares. Riders who are shopping downtown or who want a trip to the beach where parking fees apply can save parking fees as well.

“It’s very convenient,” said D’Itri. “There are three ways to book a ride: download the RideMICRO app on your smartphone, complete an online form at our website, or call us toll-free.”

A ride anywhere in the service area is just $2 per person per trip. Riders can pay online with a debit card or pay cash. Children under the age of 4 years old ride free.

RideMICRO also offers wheelchair accessibility. D’Itri recommended that riders concerned about accessibility can call the toll-free number and a service representative will answer concerns.

MICRO is a pilot program, and the WAVE Authority is pleased to have this year to evaluate the needs and wants of their riders. They see expansion and additional service areas in the future.

“Our goal is to service residents’ and visitors’ needs,” said D’Itri.

The RideMICRO app is available on Apple and Android smartphones. The website address to explore the service is https://www.wavetransit.com/ridemicro/ or call for information at the toll-free number 1-844-764-1223.

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.

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

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