SELC, Riverkeeper file to immediately stop GenX pollution in N.C.

A kayaker enjoys the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.  (© Cape Fear River Watch)

SELC, on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch, today asked the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to use its existing authority to require manufacturer Chemours to immediately stop all emissions and discharges of the chemical known as GenX and chemically related compounds. SELC also notified the company of its intent to sue for violations of the Clean Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act for its GenX pollution generated from its Fayetteville Works Facility.

River borders pollution site

The Cape Fear River forms the eastern border of Chemours site, just south of Fayetteville, N.C. The plant is upstream from Wilmington.

After months of study and testing by DEQ, EPA, and other researchers, we now know that Chemours has defiled the air, water, and land at a historic level,” said Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler. “The first step in healing those wounds is to stop the pollution at the source; DEQ must act now to protect the families and communities burdened by Chemours’ ongoing pollution.”

In its filing with the state, SELC argues that DEQ has the authority and obligation to order Chemours to discontinue immediately its discharges of toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl (PFAS) compounds, including GenX, because the company’s ongoing contamination of air and water is causing imminent danger to people’s health and public safety. DEQ is required by law to act in times of emergency to protect the health and safety of the public.

The hundreds of thousands of people that drink water contaminated by Chemours’ toxic discharge are outraged,” said Kemp Burdette, Cape Fear Riverkeeper. “The state needs to step in and stop this irresponsible company from continuing to harm our health, our water, and our air.”

Pollution flows downstream

This diagram illustrates the multiple pathways for GenX pollution.

SELC also notified Chemours that its continued pollution of these toxins into North Carolina’s water, air, and soil through its stack emissions, unlined pits and wastewater ditches, contaminated equipment and leaks and spills violates both the Clean Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act. If its violations are not stopped within 60 days, the conservation groups will file suit against Chemours in federal court to stop the pollution.

For nearly four decades, DuPont and Chemours knowingly polluted North Carolina waters with GenX and other toxic PFAS compounds causing widespread and dangerous contamination of groundwater and surface waters. Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services have recognized that this contamination may present an unreasonable risk of injury to people’s health and our environment.

Families and communities have been exposed to decades of toxic contamination in the water they drink and the air they breathe. Over the past year, GenX has been found in at least 690 private drinking water wells up to 5.5 miles away from the Chemours’ facility. Yet, Chemours continues to emit hundreds of pounds of toxic pollutants into our water, air, and soil each day.

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