The terms of a revised consent order between the state regulators and Chemours made public Wednesday do not stipulate that Chemours shall never again release any PFAS compounds. Nor do they require the company to take whatever remedial steps are necessary to address all of the widespread effects of Chemours’ and DuPont’s decades of discharges to the Cape Fear River and emissions to the air.
The revisions, however, include some substantial steps toward addressing the concerns of downstream water users. The revised order forces a number of additional measures on Chemours that were missing from the original proposal.
For example, Chemours must undertake an analysis of how its actions have affected river sediment, which may be an ongoing source of PFAS in the Cape Fear River regardless of what happens at the company’s chemical plant.
Chemours also must devise and implement a plan to address runoff from its site and migration by groundwater into the Cape Fear and other waters, which contribute to the PFAS compounds that continue to turn up in CFPUA’s ongoing sampling.
As in the original consent order, the revised one focuses on how Chemours’ releases have left offsite groundwater with significant levels of PFAS compounds.
In addition to river water, groundwater also is of particular concern to CFPUA and its ratepayers. CFPUA staff is working with researchers and engineering contractors to study options to remove PFAS compounds in its aquifer storage and recovery well, which was intended to serve as a source of drinking water. The overwhelming majority of those PFAS compounds are found only downstream of Chemours’ plant.
CFPUA and its customers hope the groundwater concerns of New Hanover County are taken into account under the provisions of this agreement. Currently, state taxpayers are funding those efforts -- fund that, in our opinion, should be coming from Chemours.
The consent order filed Wednesday still must be considered by a judge in Bladen County Superior Court. CFPUA has moved to intervene for a number of reasons in the state’s lawsuit. The motion is still pending and must be resolved before the consent order is signed. CFPUA will reconsider its motion in light of the revised consent order.
Much has happened since June 2017, when Chemours representatives sat with local and state officials in Wilmington and related how the company and DuPont, which created Chemours in 2015, had been releasing PFAS compounds into the river since about 1980. Many steps have been taken to address the companies’ actions, steps that resulted from rigorous regulatory focus.
CFPUA looks forward to seeing that focus maintained.