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Chemours settles with NCDEQ, will follow new permit requirements within six months

The Environmental Protection Agency now says there's no safe amount of PFAS in drinking water. (Jim Cole/AP)
The Environmental Protection Agency now says there's no safe amount of PFAS in drinking water. (Jim Cole/AP)

Chemours will have to cut pollution by 99.9%. The company initially protested the stricter regulation.

An agreement signed Monday ended litigation involving the company Chemours.

Chemours had filed a petition to challenge changes the Department of Environmental Quality made to its discharge permit, which included new Granular Activated Carbon filters and a groundwater capturing wall at the company's Fayetteville Works plant.

But DEQ said in a statement that the settlement doesn’t change the requirements of the discharge permit, and keeps the same high standards for the treatment of PFAS chemicals.

CFPUA also intervened to support the permit, which requires Chemours to remove 99.9% of the PFAS from groundwater it discharges into the river. The previous consent decree required a 99% reduction, which still would have allowed groundwater into the river with levels of PFAS substantially higher than what the EPA says is safe.

The settlement agreement gives Chemours six months to make the necessary changes and optimize its filters. Then, the 99.9% requirement takes effect six months after discharge from the treatment system begins. In the agreement, Chemours agreed to take specific steps and provide monthly reports on its progress during the six-month optimization period. The project must be operational by March 15, 2023.

The project includes a massive underground containment wall and wells that capture contaminated groundwater from beneath Chemours’ Fayetteville plant. That groundwater is the largest ongoing source of contamination into the Cape Fear River.

You can view the full settlement agreement here.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.