Cape Fear River Watch to sue Chemours for Clean Water Act, Toxic Substance Law violations

SOUTHEASTERN NC (WWAY) — The Cape Fear River Watch is being represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center to take action against Chemours and the discharge of GenX and other pollutants in the environment.

“Times up. We’re not going to tolerate your ongoing pollution and your ongoing contamination of drinking water,” said Kemp Burdette, Cape Fear Riverkeeper.

On behalf of the Cape Fear River Watch, SELC has petitioned the NC Department of Environmental Quality to require Chemours to immediately stop all emissions and discharges of GenX and chemically related compounds.

“This addresses both the water pollution that’s occurring from contaminated groundwater running off the site, contaminated creeks, leaching into the site surrounding the facility, but also the air emissions which are emerging as the largest source of GenX and other contamination in the area,” Senior Attorney Derb Carter said.

The firm also notified Chemours of its intent to sue for violations of the Clean Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act for its GenX pollution from its Fayetteville Works Facility.

“After months of study and testing by DEQ, EPA, and other researchers, we now know that Chemours has defiled the air, water, and land at a historic level,” said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center. “The first step in healing those wounds is to stop the pollution at the source; DEQ must act now to protect the families and communities burdened by Chemours’ ongoing pollution.”

In its filing with the state, SELC argues that DEQ has the authority and obligation to order Chemours to discontinue immediately its discharges of toxic PFAS compounds, 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 the public.

“The DEQ has a clear opportunity now to step up and take the appropriate action and that’s what we are asking them to do,” Carter said.

“The hundreds of thousands of people that drink water contaminated by Chemours’ toxic discharge are outraged,” said Kemp Burdette, Cape Fear Riverkeeper. “The State needs to step in and stop this irresponsible company from continuing to harm our health, our water and our air.”

SELC also notified Chemours that its continued pollution of these toxins into North Carolina’s water, air and soil through its stack emissions, unlined pits and wastewater ditches, contaminated equipment and leaks and spills violates both the Clean Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act. If its violations are not stopped within 60 days, the conservation groups will file suit against Chemours in federal court to stop the pollution.

For nearly four decades, DuPont and Chemours discharged GenX and other per- and poly-fluoroalkyl (PFAS) compounds.

Over the past year, GenX has been found in at least 690 private drinking water wells up to 5.5 miles away from the Chemours’ facility.

WWAY reached out to both Chemours and DEQ.

The DEQ said in part, “DEQ will review SELC’s petition thoroughly and make an appropriate decision on their request. It appears SELC’s petition is primarily based on the multiple enforcement actions DEQ has already taken against Chemours to fight the company’s emissions of GenX and protect North Carolinians’ water and air.”

WWAY has not heard back from Chemours yet.

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