Neighbors, leaders share opposition to consent order as DEQ holds public meeeting

BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) – It’s been two weeks since the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality proposed a consent order with Chemours.

This order sets a penalty the company must pay to the stay for contaminating the Cape Fear River with GenX. Tuesday evening, people in our area heard from DEQ officials.

Officials provided new information including the most recent consent order, filtration and bodily fluid contamination tests.

It’s that consent order that has many down the Cape Fear River still upset.

“If they have polluted our water, they are more responsible than $12 million,” said Bruce Skinner who lives on the Cumberland County side from the plant.

Skinner spoke before a panel of NCDEQ executives from the departments of Waste Management, Air Quality as well as the state Department of Health and Human Services.

“I don’t know why the state isn’t already doing all of those things there on the board now,” said Bladen County resident Richard Budd. “You shouldn’t need a consent order.”

The order is an agreement between the State and Chemours that begins with the company paying $13 million to cover a civil penalty and investigative costs incurred by the state.

However, if this order goes unchanged and is approved in Bladen County Superior Court, Chemours will be in no way held liable for violating any state regulations or laws. It simply states that they have, “agreed to this Consent Order solely to avoid the expense, burden and uncertainty of litigation and to address community concerns about the Facility.”

“It hits on all of those points and I think is a comprehensive solution,” said DEQ Assistant Secretary of Envrionment Sheila Holman.

The order states that Chemours must abide by several requirements.

The company will have to provide permanent drinking water supplies for those with drinking water wells with GenX above 140 parts per trillion. The company will have to install and maintain under-sink reverse osmosis drinking water systems for well owners with combined PFAS levels above 70 parts per trillion or any individual PFAS compound above 10 parts per trillion.

By the end of the year, Chemours must complete construction of new emission controls to achieve a 92 percent reduction of facility-wide GenX compound air emissions compared to the 2017 baseline level.  By the end of next year the order requires that Chemours install a thermal oxidizer to control all PFAS from multiple process streams and demonstrate PFAS reductions at an effectiveness of 99.99 percent efficiency and a 99 percent reduction facility-wide for GenX emissions compared to the 2017 baseline level.

Health studies will be conducted to determine potential health risks associated with release of PFAS compounds into the environment.

That does not include the DHHS and EPA health studies drafted currently for public comment.

The list goes on of what the DEQ says Chemours will have to be held accountable for.

But down the river, neighbors and local leaders are not buying in.

“This is unacceptable on many fronts, but at a minimum, because it likely has an adverse impact of the CFPUA’s legal claims,” wrote New Hanover County commissoiner Woody White to the commission requesting they add an item at the next meeting to reject the consent order.

WWAY has been informed he has support from multiple commissioners.

The CFPUA made their opinion known days after the news of the proposed consent order.

“The order does not resolve the problem of PFAS contamination in drinking water supplies for New Hanover County,” wrote CFPUA in an official statement.

“We obviously want to hear from the public,” said Holman. “We want to hear from county governments, local governments and city governments that are impacted. Citizens that are impacted. ”

Public comment will be taken in reference to the consent order until December 21st.

Categories: Bladen, Local, New Hanover

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