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City Set To Consider Resolution Calling For An End To GenX Production

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Mar 2, 2018
Wilmington City Council members are scheduled to take up a resolution next week urging the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality to require tenants at the Fayetteville Works site to cease operations resulting in the production of the unregulated chemical GenX and other related chemical compounds.

The resolution is set for a vote at the March 6 meeting, according to the city documents. The resolution follows a similar one passed unanimously by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners at its meeting in mid-February.

The city’s resolution highlights GenX and other fluorochemical compounds found in the Cape Fear River, which are continuing to be detected by ongoing water tests both by local utilities and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) at the site in Fayetteville. 

The Chemours Co., a tenant at the 2,150-acre Fayetteville Works site, has been linked to the source of the unregulated chemical GenX and has undergone scrutiny by local and state government officials since it was reported last summer that the chemical was found in the area’s drinking water. Chemours has said GenX is a byproduct of its operations in Fayetteville. 
 
Since then, both the city and county have supported other resolutions in regards to Chemours and its operations at the site that have resulted in the release of GenX into the surrounding environment.

City documents state that the resolution is supporting a request of the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) to NCDEQ “to immediately require all tenants of the Fayetteville Works site cease operations that result in the production of fluorochemical compounds, due to their inability to operate without discharging fluorochemical compounds into the Cape Fear River.”

The resolution states that tenants at the site located near the Cape Fear River in Fayetteville, have “repeatedly demonstrated that they are not capable of continuing operations at the facility in a manner that does not cause the release of GenX and other fluorochemical compounds into the Cape Fear River.”
 
The resolution states that the company claims it is trucking its chemical wastewater off-site, but “fluorochemical compounds continue to be detected at varying levels in the Cape Fear River and in CFPUA's treated drinking water."

Chemours did not return requests for comment on the resolutions or questions about what such actions would do to operations and jobs at the site.
 
CFPUA is undergoing several efforts to study and monitor its water treatment system for the chemicals, which has been a challenge for the utility in that they are not able to be filtered by its processes at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant. In some of those studies, the utility has received state funding under House Bill 56 for GenX research.

Reports have shown concentrations of the chemical in the river and drinking water have been decreasing since last summer.

The issue has sparked a series of lawsuits in the state, including those from local utilities, class action lawsuits filed by private law firms on behalf of area residents and another from the state.

NCDEQ, as the regulating authority over companies like Chemours, has taken its own measures against the company. Most recently in mid-February when it issued a notice of violation to the company ordering it to “immediately take new measures to control additional sources of GenX and other perfluorinated compounds from site contamination and air emissions.”

At the same time, NCDEQ also directed the company to start a trial of new technology that would control emissions from its smokestacks. It also granted “limited approval” for the company to test carbon filtration systems on drinking water wells.
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