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Persistent Pollutants

Chemours must keep PFAS from North Carolina river

State requires company to clean up groundwater and runoff

by Cheryl Hogue
August 17, 2020

 

Chemours must prevent highly persistent fluorinated compounds from seeping from or washing off its factory site near Fayetteville, North Carolina, the state has ordered.

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The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) this month added conditions to a 2019 consent order requiring Chemours to halt releases of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from manufacturing operations, such as from stack emissions or wastewater discharge. The new requirements address residual PFAS pollution at the property, including hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA), a fluoroether that comes from the hydrolysis of Chemours’s fluoropolymer processing agent GenX.

The company will have to construct an underground barrier about 2.4 km long to prevent groundwater under the site, which is contaminated with PFAS, from seeping into the Cape Fear River. Chemours must also install a groundwater cleanup system to remove PFAS. The river, which flows past the site, is a drinking water source for hundreds of thousands of people downstream.

In addition, Chemours must capture and treat stormwater at the plant to remove PFAS.

“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 DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan.

Chemours says in a statement that the new requirements are consistent with its efforts "to reduce the emissions of PFAS by at least 99% at all Chemours manufacturing sites worldwide."

Update

This story was revised on Aug. 17, 2020, to add a comment from Chemours.

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