Court approves agreement for 99% reduction of Chemours’ chemical water pollution

Agreement specifies next steps under consent order with DEQ and Chemours

The Cape Fear River and downstream communities now face much less of a threat from GenX and other PFAS chemical pollution.

A state court just approved an agreement detailing the next steps under a consent order SELC negotiated to stop Chemours from discharging 99 percent of its GenX and other PFAS pollution into the Cape Fear River— the source of drinking water for Wilmington, Brunswick County, and Pender County.

PFAS is a class of thousands of synthetic chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, and GenX, and is associated with serious health impacts. These contaminants are known as forever chemicals because they do not dissipate, dissolve, or degrade, but stay in water, soil, and our bodies.

“The consent order is keeping a significant part of Chemours’ PFAS pollution out of the Cape Fear River today,” says Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler. “With the controls required by the recent addendum, the PFAS levels in the river will drop dramatically over the next year.”

SELC reached the agreement on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and Chemours. Now approved by Bladen County Superior Court, the agreement is enforceable and amends the consent order that the parties finalized in February 2019.

The consent order is keeping a significant part of Chemours’ PFAS pollution out of the Cape Fear River today. With the controls required by the recent addendum, the PFAS levels in the river will drop dramatically over the next year.”

—Geoff Gisler, Senior Attorney

Combined with the 2019 consent order’s requirement that Chemours reduce its pollution from air emissions by 99.99 percent, and from a large on-site stream by at least 99 percent, the agreement ensures that pollution from every other significant pathway of PFAS contamination from the Chemours’ Fayetteville Works Facility to the Cape Fear River is reduced by at least 99 percent.

The addendum also requires Chemours to control its groundwater pollution, contaminated streams flowing into the Cape Fear River, and stormwater pollution from its site.

Next, the company must also re-submit a corrective action plan to ensure that contaminated groundwater on- and off-site is cleaned up and communities near the facility are protected. Chemours’ previous corrective action plan submittal was rejected by DEQ in April.

“We’re very pleased with the court’s decision to accept the addendum,” says Dana Sargent, executive director of the Cape Fear River Watch. “With the consent order, this addendum will ensure that the main sources of Chemours’ pollution are stopped as quickly as possible—making the river safer for all downstream communities.”

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