CFPUA comments question Chemours’ need to discharge PFAS under draft permit

Chemours (Photo: WWAY)

Wilmington, NC (News Release) — CFPUA submitted comments to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) on Monday, May 2, regarding a draft discharge permit that would allow Chemours to discharge treated water mainly from wells at the site extracting groundwater with high levels of PFAS.

In March, NCDEQ announced it was accepting comments on a draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) wastewater permit that would allow Chemours to discharge as much as 2.9 million gallons per day of effluent containing certain levels of PFAS, including GenX, into the Cape Fear River.

CFPUA’s comments were prepared by its attorneys at Brooks Pierce and urge NCDEQ to make three important changes to the draft NPDES permit:

  1. Require Chemours to recycle and reuse all of the effluent from proposed treatment rather than discharge it into the river to be a burden on downstream water users such as CFPUA. From CFPUA’s comments: “From the fact sheet prepared for Permit Number NC0090042, Chemours acknowledges the cost of wastewater reuse at the Site with a no-discharge treatment system ($69.6 million) is only $1.4 million more than the cost of direct discharge ($68.2 million) over twenty years. In other words, for only $70,000 more per year (net present value), Chemours can obviate the need for discharge from the Site and avoid significant imposed remediation costs on downstream water suppliers, and thereby minimize the potential human health impacts and environmental harms from PFAS contaminants.”
  2. Require Chemours to monitor and control 99 percent of all PFAS being discharged. From CFPUA’s comments: “CFPUA is currently sampling for 65 PFAS that have been previously identified as being released from the Site, whereas the compliance for mass loading is only based upon the three dominant PFAS, and monitoring is only required for the Table 3+ PFAS. CFPUA requests the draft Permit be modified so Chemours’ compliance is based on, and monitoring includes, all PFAS heretofore determined to have been released from the Site, plus any identified hereafter as Chemours-related PFAS.” Note: Table 3+ PFAS are one set of compounds cited in relation to compliance with Chemours’ Consent Order with the State.
  3. Require Chemours to manage for 24-hour storm events resulting in more than a half-inch of rain. From CFPUA’s comments: “… [T]he equalization basins and other impoundments prior to treatment and the treatment plant are only required to control a 24-hour, 0.5-inch rainfall event. Rainfall in excess of that design storm will result in a bypass of the system, i.e., a direct discharge of the collected waters into the Cape Fear River. … [According to records from the William O. Huske Lock & Dam, t]here have been 358 days of rainfall in excess of 0.5 inches [over the last 12 years], with the highest rainfall reading of 16.15 inches on October 8, 2016. … [T]his is an unacceptable and unreasonable design flaw.”

CFPUA appreciates NCDEQ’s continued diligence in enforcing the Consent Order and its consideration of CFPUA’s comments on the draft permit.

View CFPUA’s comments here.

Categories: New Hanover