The CFPUA Board today voted to spend $700,835.52 to fund an additional replacement of Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) in existing filters at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant to continue to provide some removal of PFAS from raw Cape Fear River water until new GAC filters come online in 2022.
Since 2018, CFPUA has been exchanging GAC in the existing filters as an interim measure to treat PFAS in raw river water. This interim measure removes an average of 40 percent of PFAS in raw water. It is unsuited as a long-term solution, however, because these filters were not designed for PFAS removal and are a key part of CFPUA’s treatment for other substances, including 1,4-dioxane.
What had been expected to be the final GAC exchange in these existing filters occurred in spring 2021. Eight new deep-bed GAC filters, which have been under construction since November 2019 and will provide very effective PFAS removal, were originally scheduled to come online in early 2022.
Recently, however, the construction contractor, Adams Robinson, informed CFPUA completion would be delayed by 56 days because of rain and supply-chain and labor-availability issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new filters are now expected to begin treating water at Sweeney in June 2022.
CFPUA continues to detect Chemours’ PFAS in raw water from the Cape Fear River, despite more than four years of state and federal regulatory actions and mitigation and remediation efforts by Chemours. CFPUA staff recommended the additional GAC exchange in the existing filters so the interim PFAS-treatment would continue until the new deep-bed filters become operational in June 2022.
The new filters cost $46 million to design and build and will cost another $3 million or more per year to operate. CFPUA believes these and other costs are the responsibility of Chemours. Because Chemours has failed to accept that responsibility, CFPUA has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Chemours on behalf of CFPUA’s customers. That lawsuit is pending.