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North Carolina DEQ orders additional PFAS reductions by Chemours

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is ordering significant additional actions by Chemours to prevent PFAS pollution from entering the Cape Fear River as the next phase of the ongoing cleanup of the contamination at the Fayetteville Works Site. These actions address more than 90% of the PFAS entering the Cape Fear River through groundwater from the residual contamination on the site, according to a NCDEQ press release.

“Since 2017, DEQ actions and the Consent Order have stopped the process wastewater discharge from the facility and drastically reduced air emissions of PFAS by 99.9%,” continued the statement released Thursday. “The additional actions presented today in the Addendum to the Consent Order will further reduce the PFAS contamination to the Cape Fear River and improve water quality for downstream communities.”

“We have already issued significant penalties and ordered Chemours to stop actively polluting. Today’s actions lay out exactly how Chemours will clean up the residual contamination they’ve caused that continues to impact communities along the Cape Fear River,” said NCDEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan. “This level of action is unprecedented and continues to build a foundation for the Attorney General’s broader investigation of PFAS in North Carolina. As a state, we will not wait for action from the federal government to provide relief for our communities and protect our natural resources.”

Moving forward, Chemours is required to treat four identified “seeps” which account for more than half of the contaminated groundwater reaching the river in two phases.

– The interim measures to filter PFAS at an efficiency of at least 80% from the first of the four seeps will go into effect starting by Mid-November, with all four completed by April 2021.

– The permanent measure is the construction of a subsurface barrier wall approximately 1.5 miles long and groundwater extraction system that will remove at least 99% of PFAS to be completed by March 2023.

Chemours is also required to treat on-site stormwater that is adding residual pollution to the river with a capture and treatment system that must remove at least 99% of PFAS.

– Failure to meet the schedules or achieve the removal goals will result in financial penalties, including:

  • Failure to meet the construction schedule for the interim measures will result in fines of $5,000 per day for the first 14 days and $10,000 per day until construction is complete.
  • Failure to meet the barrier wall installation schedule results in a $150,000 fine followed by $20,000 per week until installation is complete.
  • Failure to meet the barrier wall’s 95% mass loading goal in the initial demonstration results in a $500,000 fine, with a $100,000 fine for failure to meet any of the four subsequent demonstrations.

The Addendum to the Consent Order with the additional requirements and penalties will be provided for public comment for 30 days. The comment period will be announced next week. NCDEQ will consider the public comments before the Addendum is presented for entry by the Bladen County Superior Court. The Addendum is available here.

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