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NCDEQ issues a 'Notice of Violation' to Chemours for exceeding PFAS discharge limits

Crews working on the eight new granular activated carbon (GAC) filters at Sweeney Water Treatment Plant in 2020.

This week, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality issued a Notice of Violation to the Chemours-Fayetteville Works Facility. According to DEQ, the company has exceeded its discharge limit for PFAS contaminants.

NCDEQ says Chemours has failed to properly operate a filter system designed to remove PFAS pollutants. The system was installed on what’s called Old Outfall 002 last October. The state says this violates the company’s recent legal agreement and its discharge permit.

Vaughn Hagerty is the public information officer for Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. He says he’s not surprised that DEQ issued the notice:

“We continually detect significant levels of Chemours PFAS in our regular sampling of water. The treatment that Chemours was forced to install at Old Outfall 002 was supposed to reduce the PFAS coming from their site, but when you account for fluctuations in river flow, which can affect the concentration, we’ve really seen no meaningful change in Chemours contribution to PFAS in the river since October 1st.”  

A spokesperson for Chemours says they are reviewing the notice from the state and will respond accordingly to their request for information. And the company says the system installed at Old Outfall 002 has experienced stress due to above-average rainfall.

Hagerty says CFPUA is continuing work on its $43 million project to add eight new granular activated carbon filters at its Sweeney Water Treatment Plant. The technology will remove about 90% of PFAS from untreated river water. Work is expected to be completed in early 2022.

It’s not yet clear what additional action the state will take; a spokesperson for DEQ says they will determine civil penalties for the violations once they receive additional information from Chemours. 


Here's the full statement from Chemours:

Chemours is currently reviewing the notice of violation from the state, and will respond accordingly to their outlined request for information.  The system installed [Granulated Activated Carbon units] to capture and treat water from the stream referred to as Old Outfall 002 began operation in October 2020, and has experienced unordinary stresses, including excessive solids [sediments from the stream], since that time due to above average rainfall. Chemours has already incorporated additional mitigation measures [a filitration unit and equipment] as a result of our learnings, and we are moving forward with treatment of the 002 stream, as well as addressing PFAS loading to the Cape Fear River, as approved by the state as part of our Consent Order and Consent Order Addendum. Chemours has demonstrated a commitment to environmental stewardship that is significant and meaningful, and we have already taken numerous actions to control PFAS emissions at our Fayetteville site.  We are not aware of any other company in our industry or other industries who has taken the steps we have taken.


Below is the NCDEQ Notice of Violation to Chemours:

2021 01 26 Chemours Final NOV by Ben Schachtman on Scribd