CFPUA responds to exclusion from latest PFAS settlement

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)– A tentative settlement has been reached in the federal lawsuit against Chemours and other companies for their roles in contaminating drinking water with PFAS and other forever chemicals.  

But this settlement does not include the lower cape fear utilities, such as Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. 

PFAS contaminated drinking water is something that CFPUA has been fighting for six years as of tomorrow. And now, it appears the agency is not included in this latest agreement. 

“I’m glad to see the first step that folks will get some relief financially to help resolve some of these water issues that we have in our state,” said New Hanover County Commissioner and CFPUA Board Member, Jonathan Barfield.

Chemours, alongside Dupont and Corteva Reach Comprehensive, have reached a tentative settlement as a result of PFAS contamination in drinking water.

However, the settlement states that water systems owned and operated by the federal government, or a state government, as well as water systems in the Lower Cape Fear River Basin of North Carolina, are excluded from any compensation in this particular settlement, unless they requested otherwise. 

That includes Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. 

“We’ve chosen to ride this thing out and stick with the lawsuit we have. We gotta think long term. The goal is that we have something long term. You can take the short term win and get that quick settlement, but that may not be enough to get your long term needs,” said Barfield. So I think that’s the mindset the authority has right now to make sure long term there are resources to take care of what we’ve already invested so we wont need additional money from them in the future.”

Barfield says that CFPUA sticking with its separate lawsuit assures that CFPUA and its customers will be fully compensated for damages caused  in the long run.

Emily Donovan with Clean Cape Fear agrees that getting involved with this settlement might be settling for less.

“From my perspective, what I’m noticing is that I think this settlement is undervalued when it’s being labeled as a nationwide settlement,” said Donovan. “So, if this settlement is open to nationwide utilities and water systems across the country that are dealing with PFAS contamination, just looking, at the landscape I don’t see how we would fully get compensated the way I believe our region deserves.” 

CFPUA installed the gac filters back in 2022, which cost the agency an estimated one-hundred million dollars. That is the amount they plan to recover in this lawsuit. 

“Just know that we’re fighting for you. We’re trying with this lawsuit to be successful to reimburse our rate payers back for what they have paid up to this point for the GAC facilities,” said Barfield. “Moving forward, as we do now, quality PFAS free drinking water with that system,” said Barfield.  

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