News | June 15, 2022

EPA’s drinking water health advisory for GenX underscores need for action

Agencies must use existing authority to prevent ongoing exposure to GenX and other PFAS
Wilmington, North Carolina sits where the Cape Fear River meets the Atlantic Ocean, and downstream from Chemours’ Fayetteville plant.

The new Environmental Protection Agency drinking water health advisories for GenX and other industrial chemicals announced today in Wilmington, North Carolina, underscore the need for action.

We’re calling on the EPA and state agencies to enforce existing laws against polluters as we did in stopping Chemours’ GenX and other PFAS pollution in North Carolina. The Chemours Fayetteville Works facility polluted the Cape Fear River upstream of drinking water intakes for Wilmington, Brunswick County, and Pender County that serve over 300,000 people.

“We applaud EPA’s leadership in setting the new health advisory level for GenX and proposing new advisories for PFOA and PFOS,” says Geoff Gisler, senior attorney and leader of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Clean Water Program. He led litigation against Chemours in North Carolina to stop GenX and other PFAS pollution.

No community should have to suffer from toxic PFAS pollution.

Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler, Leader of SELC’s Clean Water Program

“No community should have to suffer from toxic PFAS pollution, especially when agencies have existing authority to identify and control sources of these dangerous chemicals,” Gisler adds. “EPA, DEQ, and state agencies nationwide must enforce existing law that requires use of technology to reduce or eliminate PFAS when issuing water permits.”  

SELC’s litigation led to a consent order among Cape Fear River Watch, the state and Chemours to stop at least 99% of PFAS pollution at its source that contaminated the Cape Fear River. The resulting installation of technology at the site has demonstrated that widely available control technologies can prevent PFAS discharges.

SELC’s work shapes EPA plan for ‘forever chemicals’ like PFAS.

SELC and our client, Cape Fear River Watch, continue to enforce the terms of a resulting consent order with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Chemours to stop the GenX and other PFAS pollution at its source and ensure the Cape Fear River is safe for downstream communities. GenX and other PFAS have been found in their treated drinking water at high levels.

A timeline of the GenX and other PFAS contamination discovery, litigation and consent order in North Carolina can be found here.