CFPUA calls Chemours’ draft wastewater discharge permit a ‘partial measure’

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Chemours (Photo: WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — On Monday, CFPUA submitted comments on a draft permit that would allow Chemours to discharge as much as 1.58 million gallons of wastewater a day into the Cape Fear River from a treatment system Chemours says will reduce per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in surface water.

CFPUA says the proposed permit and treatment system are the latest “partial measures” by Chemours to fulfill its obligations under the February 2019 consent order.

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“Like so many of Chemours’ previous proposals under this consent order, the stated PFAS-reduction goals meant to benefit hundreds of thousands of downstream water users such as CFPUA’s customers fall far short of the far more specific, timely measures afforded a few thousand private well owners around the Chemours site,” according to CFPUA. “These well owners rightly obtain relief, at Chemours’ expense, almost immediately upon determination that their drinking water contains more than 10 parts per trillion (ppt) of any one PFAS compound or if the total of all PFAS in their water is above 70 ppt.”

“These standards have not been applied to downstream water users, including CFPUA’s customers, despite overwhelming evidence that their source water routinely contains concentrations exceeding the 10/70 thresholds.  Instead of immediate relief, downstream water users are asked to pin their hopes on Chemours’ promises to implement measures with uncertain outcomes some time in the coming years.”

CFPUA says Chemours has not been ordered to pay anything towards the $43 million granular activated carbon (GAC) filter CFPUA is installing to deal with the company’s pollution.

“We note that granular activated carbon (GAC) is the centerpiece of the Chemours-funded PFAS treatment system that will result in the discharge governed by this permit,” CFPUA wrote in a news release. “Chemours also has paid to install GAC filters for dozens of private well owners near their industrial site. A large-scale GAC filter system is under construction at CFPUA’s Sweeney Water Treatment Plant, which sources its raw water from the Cape Fear River.  This $43 million addition is being built solely to address Chemours’ and DuPont’s PFAS contamination in the Cape Fear River. Yet, while State regulators and attorneys have compelled Chemours to fund the wastewater treatment facility connected to this permit and pay for GAC filters installed in private homes near its plant, the State so far has not similarly required Chemours to contribute even a single dime from the corporation’s highly profitable operations to provide an equivalent remedy for CFPUA’s customers.”

A copy of CFPUA’s comments may be found here.

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is seeking public comment on a draft discharge permit for a water treatment system at the Chemours Fayetteville Works site to remove PFAS contamination.

The treatment system must be operational by September 30, according to the consent order.

“The system will treat groundwater that currently discharges without treatment into the river, and it is not designed for process wastewater from the facility, according to NCDEQ. “Since 2017, Chemours has been prohibited from discharging process wastewater into the Cape Fear River.”