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NC DEQ Seeking Public Input On Proposed Settlement With Chemours

A sign at the entrance of the Fayetteville Works site on N.C. 87 in Bladen County, North Carolina.
Rusty Jacobs

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is accepting public comment over the next few weeks on a proposed consent order with a chemical company responsible for polluting the Cape Fear River and private wells near its Fayetteville plant.

A scientific study last year showed the company had been dumping the chemical GenX in the Cape Fear for decades.

Under the proposed order, Chemours would have to pay a civil fine of $12 million dollars. The company also would have to conduct health-related toxicity tests on GenX and other per- and polyfluoroalkyl, or  PFAS, compounds.

"It provides information to the agency to guide us in looking at how much of any given compound should be allowed to be released into the environment through a permit," said DEQ Assistant Secretary Sheila Holman, during a conference call with reporters, referring to the toxicity testing requirement.

The consent order also would require Chemours to provide municipal water hookups for residents with tainted wells or whole-house filtration systems.

"They're going to have to continue to test the well water until we see no well water above 10 parts per trillion for any of the PFAS compounds," Holman added.

As part of the order, Chemours denies any violation of any law, regulation or permit.

The environmental advocacy group Cape Fear River Watch, a co-plaintiff in the state's case against Chemours, has signed onto the consent order.

DEQ is accepting public comment until December 21.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has criticized the consent order. The water utility said the settlement would not do  enough to protect its more than 200,000 customers in the Wilmington area.

The CFPUA has its own lawsuit pending against Chemours and has been testing a new filtration system to remove PFAS contaminants from drinking water.

The consent order must be approved by a Bladen County Superior Court judge.

Rusty Jacobs is WUNC's Voting and Election Integrity Reporter.
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