Conservation groups file to defend N.C. permit limits on PFAS water pollution against Chemours’ challenge
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—On behalf of Cape Fear River Watch, the Southern Environmental Law Center today filed a motion to intervene in the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings to defend a state permit for a Chemours’ groundwater treatment system that sets strict limits on discharges of toxic PFAS pollution. The September 2022 state permit is for a groundwater treatment system required by the consent order reached by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch with the North Carolina Department of Enviornmental Quality and Chemours. It holds Chemours to cleaning up the PFAS in its groundwater pollution and protects downstream communities that rely on the Cape Fear River for drinking water.
“In issuing this permit, the Department of Environmental Quality listened to the public, followed the law, and set limits that will keep dangerous PFAS out of the Cape Fear River,” said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Cape Fear River Watch seeks to join the state in defending this permit that its members rely on to clean up the river.”
On behalf of Cape Fear River Watch, the Southern Environmental Law Center submitted comments in May and June on the draft permit to DEQ that pushed for more protective limits.
“We are disappointed that Chemours has decided to challenge this permit, threatening to increase the PFAS pollution in our community,” said Dana Sargent, executive director of Cape Fear River Watch. “We can’t sit idly by while our health and safety are again threatened by Chemours so we hope that we will be allowed to be involved in this case.”
The consent order requires Chemours to stop the GenX and other PFAS pollution at its source, the Chemours’ Fayetteville Works Facility; provide clean drinking water to North Carolinians with contaminated wells; and ensure the Cape Fear River is safe for downstream communities. The river is the drinking water source for the city of Wilmington and New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick Counties downstream. GenX and other PFAS, which are harmful to people’s health at very low levels, have been found at high levels in the treated drinking water for these communities.