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State Moves To Revoke Chemours’ Process Wastewater Permit

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Nov 16, 2017

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday that the agency is moving to revoke the Chemours Co. permit to discharge process wastewater because the company failed to comply with its permit and failed to report an October spill, according to the release.

In addition to moving to revoke Chemours wastewater permit, DEQ officials also notified Chemours the state will suspend its permit to discharge process wastewater from its manufacturing area including the areas where GenX and other fluorinated compounds are produced, Jamie Kritzer, spokesman for the DEQ said in the release. 

"The move today is to revoke the part of the permit that governs the ability of Chemours to discharge fluorinated compounds into the Cape Fear River," Kritzer said in an email.

"The partial suspension does not apply to other permitted waste streams, including process wastewater from Kuraray and Dupont facilities that is treated and discharged by Chemours under the permit and sanitary wastewater, co-neutralized regenerate, stormwater, non-contact cooling water, boiler blowdown and condensate and cooling tower blowdown," he added.

The suspension will take effect Nov. 30. Chemours is still required by the state to divert wastewater containing GenX and transport it out-of-state for disposal, he said.

"Our expectations are that they would capture and divert for offsite disposal the process wastewater from the manufacturing areas where GenX and other fluorinated compounds are produced. We think this is feasible since the company has been capturing and diverting significant amounts of this process wastewater already," Kritzer said.

The revocation of Chemours’ permit to discharge process wastewater from its manufacturing areas will take effect after the required 60-day notice to Chemours and public participation in the permit process, officials said. 

In response to the move by DEQ, Chemours officials said, “We believe the NC DEQ’s stated intention to suspend and revoke the process wastewater discharge permit for Fayetteville Works is unwarranted. The Company has worked in good faith to cooperate fully with all of DEQ’s requests, including capturing all wastewater they have previously requested that we capture. While we do not believe there is a legal basis on which to suspend or revoke the permit, we will accept the DWR’s invitation in its letter that we meet with them and look forward to discussing a path forward. We remain committed to operating this facility, which employs hundreds of North Carolina residents, in accordance with all applicable laws and in a manner that respects the environment and public health and safety.”

The revocation does not apply to process wastewater from Kuraray and Dupont facilities that is treated and discharged by Chemours under the wastewater discharge permit.

The notifications came in a letter DEQ sent to Chemours on Thursday.

“It is unacceptable that Chemours has failed to disclose information required by law, the information we need in order to protect the public,” Michael Regan, secretary of DEQ, said in the release. “We’re taking action to suspend Chemours’ wastewater permit and moving to permanently revoke it because the company has repeatedly failed to follow the law.”

The news comes after DEQ cited Chemours earlier this week with violating the conditions of its wastewater discharge permit because of the company's failure to report a chemical spill at its Fayetteville Works facility. According to DEQ, the company told state officials that dimer acid fluoride, a precursor to the unregulated chemical GenX, had spilled.

The spill came to light one month after it occurred when DEQ officials questioned Chemours about state water quality results indicating elevated concentrations of GenX at Chemours’ primary wastewater discharge outfall, according to DEQ.

DEQ is referring its probe of the Oct. 6 spill to the State Bureau of Investigation to determine if there is evidence of criminal violations for not reporting the spill as required by law, officials said.

Chemours wastewater discharge permit requires that DEQ is notified within 24 hours of any discharge of significant amounts of waste that are abnormal in quantity or characteristic, as well as any noncompliance that potentially threatens public health or the environment.

DEQ determined that Chemours’ violation of the reporting requirements in the permit following the Oct. 6 spill are sufficient basis for the revocation of the permit to discharge process wastewater, Kritzer said in the release. DEQ will continue to collect and test water samples from the Cape Fear River including at the Chemours outfall.

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