Originally posted by Southern Environmental Law Center on July 13, 2018.
North Carolina state officials have the authority to immediately stop the water and air pollution from a chemical manufacturing plant north of Wilmington but have yet to use it. Despite growing evidence of public health concerns, Chemours continues to discharge GenX and other pollutants into the Cape Fear River watershed.
Today, SELC and Cape Fear River Watch took action, filing a suit in New Hanover County Superior Court arguing that DEQ should use its existing authority to require Chemours to stop immediately all emissions and discharges of GenX and chemically related compounds from its Fayetteville Works Facility. On June 15, DEQ denied Cape Fear River Watch’s request for declaratory ruling asking the agency to use its authority to stop pollution from Chemours’ facility, yet acknowledged that Chemours and DuPont have caused widespread air and water pollution and immediate action is necessary to protect public health. Now the groups are appealing that denial in court.
“The state needs to stop immediately Chemours’ toxic pollution of the air and water that families and communities from Fayetteville to Wilmington depend on,” said Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler. “Every day that goes by, Chemours puts more toxic pollution into the air and water that accumulates in our rivers, land, and groundwater. Chemours’ harmful pollution must end now.”
In its filing, SELC argues that DEQ has the authority and obligation to order Chemours to halt its release of toxic perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, including GenX, because the company’s ongoing contamination of air and water is causing imminent danger to people’s health and public safety. DEQ is required by law to act in times of emergency to protect the health and safety of people.
“The people of North Carolina depend on DEQ to protect our health and safety in times of emergency,” said Dana Sargent, president of the Cape Fear River Watch Board of Directors. “This is one of those times.”
Chemours and DuPont knowingly polluted North Carolina’s water sources with toxic PFAS compounds for nearly four decades, causing widespread and dangerous contamination of groundwater and surface waters. After a year of investigation, Chemours continues to emit GenX and other PFAS compounds into the water, air, and soil through its stack emissions, leaking pipes, and unlined pits and ditches.
Families and communities have already been exposed to decades of toxic contamination. DEQ has now found GenX in 763 private drinking water wells up to 5.5 miles away from the Chemours’ facility, as well as in fish and honey.