The public will vote on the Chemours water treatment project
RALEIGH, NC — The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is asking the public’s input on PFAS, sometimes called “forever chemicals.”
PFAS are known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Toxic chemicals are used in products such as non-stick pans, food packaging, clothing, furniture and medical equipment.
What do you want to know
The DEQ’s Water Resources Division is holding public hearings until June 23
He accepts comments on a proposed groundwater treatment system at the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility
This would reduce the amount of PFAS entering the Cape Fear River Basin via contaminated groundwater
Chemours was discovered dumping GenX and other chemicals into the Cape Fear River in 2017
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency released a new drinking water health advisory. It says two of the chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) can cause negative health effects even when the amount in drinking water is close to zero.
The announcement comes as the DEQ’s Water Resources Division talks about a groundwater treatment system project at the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility.
The facility was discovered dumping GenX and other chemicals into the Cape Fear River in 2017. The company has since taken steps to improve water quality, but that won’t fix what has already been done.
“Once these chemicals are already released into the river … there’s really no way to get them back, and so the damage is basically done,” said NC State researcher James Dodds, who has been studying PFAS for the past 10 years. 2018.
The proposed water treatment system would require Chemours to remove at least 99% of PFAS from contaminated groundwater before discharging it. But Dodds says that doesn’t completely eliminate the problem.
“If a deer goes to the Cape Fear River and starts drinking the water, they don’t have a reverse osmosis filter or anything like that to clean their water,” Dodds said. “And then when you go out and you hunt and you shoot that deer and you eat it…you’re consuming PFAS. And the question is, how much are you consuming and is it safe?”
That’s why researchers like Dodds are studying the impact of PFAS on different parts of our environment. They study everything from water to pine needles and fish.
“PFAS are man-made chemicals mostly related to Teflon…So any nonstick pans you have in your house are basically made of PFAS,” Dodds said. “Ultimately, these pans have to go somewhere when they’re used and that ends up in a landfill where these chemicals are basically washed out into the environment in our rivers and lakes.
Currently, contaminated groundwater flowing into the Cape Fear River is not intercepted or treated by Chemours.
Public hearings on the proposed water treatment system began Tuesday evening at Cape Fear Community College. The DEQ’s Water Resources Division will accept comments on this until Friday.
If you would like to speak at the meeting, you must register to speak by noon, June 23 at this link.
To submit comments via email, send them to [email protected] with CHEMOURS noted in the subject line. Public comments may also be mailed to Wastewater Permitting, Attn: Chemours Permit, 1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC, 27699-1617.