Staff with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality today inspected Chemours’ Fayetteville facility and verified that the company is containing wastewater from the byproduct GenX, preventing the unregulated chemical compound from discharging into the Cape Fear River.
DEQ officials verified during an on-site inspection Tuesday that Chemours is redirecting the wastewater from the GenX process into temporary storage tanks at the Fayetteville facility so it can be moved off-site for disposal. Chemours officials told state DEQ officials that the company shipped one tank of wastewater from the process to an Arkansas commercial incinerator for a trial burn on June 22 and that the company is making arrangements to move and incinerate the waste collected from the process.
“We are holding Chemours accountable for containing the chemical compound as we continue to investigate the presence of GenX in the Cape Fear River,” said Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “While we have verified that Chemours is no longer discharging GenX into the Cape Fear River, we are continuing to work to better understand this unregulated compound, how much of it is in the river, and its potential impacts.”
The site visit is part of an ongoing state investigation. DEQ, in consultation with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, is looking into reports of an unregulated chemical known as GenX in the lower Cape Fear River. Chemours produces GenX at its facility in Fayetteville and previously discharged wastewater from the process into the Cape Fear.
In response to requests from DEQ, local officials and residents, Chemours announced on June 20 the company would capture, remove and safely dispose of wastewater containing the byproduct GenX instead of releasing it into the Cape Fear.
As part of its investigation, DEQ officials are collecting water samples at 12 locations in the Cape Fear River near Chemours’ Fayetteville facility and downstream at the Wilmington area’s water system intakes, finished water and groundwater wells serving the lower Cape Fear region. The first water samples were collected June 19 in the Fayetteville region and June 22 in the Wilmington region. DEQ officials repeated the same water collection process this week, with samples collected in the Fayetteville region on June 26 and scheduled for collection in the Wilmington region on June 29. DEQ plans to repeat sampling again on July 3 and 6.
The water samples collected by DEQ are being analyzed by two independent laboratories, a certified facility in Colorado and a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lab in the Research Triangle Park. The water samples collected by DEQ on June 19 and June 22 arrived last week at the Colorado and EPA labs.
Once lab analysis is complete, results will be reviewed by state officials with DEQ and DHHS and made available to the public. Results are expected to be available about a month from the time the samples arrive at the labs. Collecting and analyzing multiple samples is essential to develop a comprehensive understanding of conditions and further evaluate potential health impacts.
For the latest information on what DEQ and DHHS are doing to address this issue, please visit DEQ’s web page devoted to GenX, https://deq.nc.gov/news/hot-topics/genx-investigation.