Oct 19, 2020

North Carolina Court Approves Agreement for Reduction of Water Pollution

A North Carolina court approved an agreement that will attempt to manage Cape River Fear's pollution.

storm water

A North Carolina court approved an agreement which details the next steps under a consent order negotiated by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and Chemours. 

The agreement requires the company to stop 99% of GenX and other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) water pollution from the most significant sources of pollution at its site into the Cape Fear River. This river is the source of drinking water for Wilmington, Brunswick County, and Pender County. 

The agreement was approved by Bladen County Superior Court, is enforceable and amends the consent order that the parties finalized in February 2019, reported the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“The consent order is keeping a significant part of Chemours’ PFAS pollution out of the Cape Fear River today,” said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “With the controls required by the addendum, the PFAS levels in the river will drop dramatically over the next year.”

A 2019 consent order also requires that Chemours reduce its pollution from air emissions by 99.99% and from a large on-site stream by at least 99%. In combination with this 2019 conset order, the agreement will ensure that pollution from every other significant pathway of PFAS contamination from the Chemours’ Fayetteville Works Facility to the Cape Fear River is reduced by at least 99%.

According to Dana Sargent, executive director of the Cape Fear River Watch, this addendum will ensure that river is safer for all downstream communities.

The addendum requires Chemours to take actions to prevent PFAS pollution from on-site groundwater, small streams, and storm water from reaching the Cape Fear River and downstream drinking water supplies, including:

  • Controlling its groundwater pollution. Chemours will build an in-ground barrier between the Cape Fear River and its contaminated site. Chemours will pump out polluted groundwater trapped by the barrier and treat it, removing at least 99% of the PFAS. This is expected to be completed in spring 2023;
  • Controlling contaminated streams flowing into the Cape Fear River by installing in-stream filters subject to strict pollution reduction requirements. After the barrier wall is installed, the filters must remove at least 99% of GenX and other PFAS pollution in the streams compared to existing conditions; and
  • Controlling storm water pollution from its site by capturing storm water from the portion of its facility that contributes the most contaminated runoff and treating it.

The company must also resubmit a corrective action plan to ensure that contaminated groundwater on- and off-site is cleaned up and communities near the facility are protected, reported the Southern Environmental Law Center.

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