An agreement signed today ends litigation without changing the discharge permit issued to Chemours for the treatment of contaminated groundwater to significantly reduce PFAS entering the Cape Fear River. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) reached an agreement with Chemours to end the litigation over the permit issued by DEQ on September 15, 2022. Last month, Chemours filed a petition to challenge the permit. CFPUA intervened to support the permit.
Today’s agreement does not change the final permit conditions and includes measures by which Chemours will proceed toward compliance with the final PFAS permit limits. Those limits take effect six months after discharge from the treatment system begins. In the agreement, Chemours agrees to take specific steps and provide monthly reports on its progress during the six-month optimization period. Chemours also agrees to dismiss its petition for a contested case hearing on the permit.
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the treatment system is part of the larger barrier wall remediation project to substantially reduce PFAS entering the Cape Fear River and impacting downstream communities. Currently, contaminated groundwater from the facility site flows untreated directly into the Cape Fear River. This project is designed to reduce the largest ongoing source of PFAS at the Chemours facility that contaminates the river and reaches downstream water intakes. The project must be operational by March 15, 2023, under the terms of the Consent Order. DEQ expects Chemours to take necessary actions to comply with the permit conditions and the Consent Order and meet its obligations to clean up the PFAS contamination impacting thousands of residents in at least eight counties and provide them with alternate water. DEQ will continue to hold Chemours accountable for the cleanup and for preventing future impacts to North Carolinians.