DEQ announces Action Strategy for PFAS

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality announced the agency’s Action Strategy for PFAS today during an event in Wilmington. The DEQ Action Strategy for PFAS contains three priorities: protecting communities, protecting drinking water and cleaning up existing contamination.

“Families deserve to have confidence that they’re getting clean water when they turn on the tap,” Governor Cooper said. “North Carolina has taken the lead across the country in demanding accountability for PFAS and other emerging chemical compounds and this plan will help us continue to proactively protect our communities.”

“In the last five years, communities along the Cape Fear River have learned far more than most about GenX and PFAS, or forever chemicals, and their impacts and we want to ensure that in the future no other community experiences what they have already been though,” said Secretary Elizabeth S. Biser. “DEQ’s Action Strategy lays out our priorities to address PFAS comprehensively across our state and our commitment to propose enforceable standards for PFAS chemicals.”

DEQ’s priority areas include actions to identify health and exposure risks, develop the science needed to set enforceable limits, and steps to minimize future PFAS pollution.

DEQ, in consultation with DHHS and the Secretaries’ Science Advisory Board, is working to create a list of Priority PFAS compounds most prevalent in North Carolina.  DEQ plans to propose groundwater, surface water and drinking water standards for priority PFAS and will initiate rulemaking for those that have available scientific data. For compounds without the required data, DEQ will work with academic partners to develop the data needed to set standards.

While standards are being developed, DEQ will provide technical assistance to permittees who take early action and chose to reduce their releases into the environment through materials substitution, pollution control and treatment systems, and other innovative techniques.

The DEQ Strategy for PFAS Action is available online at: https://deq.nc.gov/media/30108/open

Should your well be considered for Chemours drinking water well testing?

Chemours has begun a drinking water well testing program in New Hanover, Brunswick, Columbus, and Pender counties. The testing is being performed per the revised Interim Four Counties Sampling and Drinking Water Plan (Plan). The revised Plan was submitted to North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ; https://deq.nc.gov/) on April 1, 2022.

Chemours is in the process of identifying private drinking water wells that may qualify for testing. The water will be tested for the 12 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds listed in the Consent Order (CO) and may be also other PFAS compounds as well as non-PFAS water quality parameters. Call (910) 678-1100 and leave a message if you feel your well should be tested.  A team member will call you back within three business days.

For more information, please check the Fayetteville Works website at: https://www.chemours.com/en/about-chemours/global-reach/fayetteville-works.

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DEQ accepting comments on Draft Permit for Project to Substantially Reduce PFAS Entering the Cape Fear River

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is currently accepting public comments on a draft discharge permit for a proposed groundwater treatment system at the Chemours facility that would substantially reduce PFAS entering the Cape Fear River via contaminated groundwater.

Since 2017, Chemours has been prohibited from discharging PFAS-contaminated wastewater from its plant operations into the Cape Fear River.  However, historic operations at the facility have caused significant groundwater contamination at the site.  Currently, this heavily contaminated groundwater flows untreated to the Cape Fear River.  This groundwater may contribute over 60% of the PFAS flowing from the facility to the river.  Without intervention, this untreated groundwater will continue to contaminate the river and downstream water supplies for years to come.

The Consent Order requires Chemours to address this 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 and accompanying discharge permit, this heavily contaminated groundwater would continue to flow to the river untreated.

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.

Residential well testing for GenX could happen this month

Pender County Health and Human Services Director Carolyn Moser told the board of county commissioners on Feb. 7 that Chemours may proceed with testing residential water wells along the Cape Fear River.

According to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Chemours submitted a plan to DEQ which is currently being reviewed for sampling in Pender County.

It is possible the sampling could take place this month.

NCDEQ maintains a “request to sample” list. Residents in close proximity to the Cape Fear River should visit DEQ’s website, https://deq.nc.gov/news/key-issues/genx-investigation/genx-information-residents. 

Pender County officials will share information to our residents as it becomes available.

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