The US Environmental Protection Agency is reconsidering an October 2020 petition from environmental and public health groups to require Chemours to test the health and environmental effects of 54 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) produced at the company’s facility in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The EPA denied the petition in January 2021, in the final days of the Donald J. Trump administration.
The advocacy groups challenged the denial in federal court and sent a letter to EPA administrator Michael Regan asking him to reconsider the petition. The agency granted the request and in a Sept. 29 letter said it would make a decision on the petition within 90 days.
Chemours released PFAS for decades from the Fayetteville facility, which is located next to the Cape Fear River. The groups want the EPA to use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to order Chemours to conduct tests to fill in data gaps related to the effects of these PFAS. “In the last few years, several of these PFAS have been identified in drinking water sources serving over a quarter of a million people in the Cape Fear watershed, in human blood and in environmental media, including air emissions, surface water, sediment, stormwater, groundwater and locally grown produce,” the petition states.
Much attention has focused on Chemours’s fluoropolymer processing agent GenX, but the petitioners claim they have identified dozens of other PFAS released by the Fayetteville plant. The EPA “needs to make Chemours foot the bill for research that will enable Cape Fear residents to understand the impact of PFAS pollution” on their health, Connor Kippe, policy advocate for one of the petitioners, Toxic Free NC, says in a statement.