The Chemours chemical company blamed for polluting water supplies in southwestern Cumberland County, the Cape Fear River and points south into Wilmington today filed legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its health advisory data released in late June.
In June, Chemours hinted it was considering legal action after EPA and North Carolina released new health advisories for private drinking water wells in the Gray’s Creek Community. Those advisories upgraded what EPA believed were dangers to the public exposed to chemical compounds that leached into local area wells.
Chemours Fayetteville Works is located along the Cumberland/Bladen County line and was previously known as DuPont.
Today, the Chemour Company petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit for a review of the June 15 EPA health advisory for hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA) and its ammonium salt.
In a recent statement, Chemours states that it supports government regulation “that is grounded in best available science and follows the law.” It claims that the health advisory issued by EPA in June fails to follow science or the law.
“When an agency misuses its authority to promulgate a health advisory that is scientifically unsound, in a manner contrary to the agency’s own processes and standards, we have an obligation to challenge it, administratively and in the courts,” according to the statement.
Chemours argues that nationally recognized toxicologists and other scientists evaluated the EPA’s analysis and determined it “fundamentally flawed.” Chemours also contends that EPA knew its data was flawed, ignored relevant data and used “grossly” incorrect and “overstated” exposure assumptions in determining GenX levels.
Hexafluoropropylene oxide (HFPO) dimer acid and its ammonium salt are compounds used in manufacturing and referred to by their trade name GenX. Chemours states that its parent company DuPont sought EPA approval to use GenX under the Toxic Substance Control Act and was given the go-ahead by the EPA in January 2009.
In its June 15 health advisory, the EPA dramatically changed the minimum levels of GenX in drinking water from 140 parts per trillion (ppt) to 10 parts per trillion. The new minimum ppt replaces the state’s provisional safe drinking water goal for GenX, established in 2018.
The EPA’s final health advisory for GenX affects a current consent order requiring Chemour to provide whole house filtration or connection to public water for any private drinking well that tests above the new health advisory ppt.
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality already directed Chemour to revise its drinking water compliance requirements by considering the 10 ppt for GenX. According to the state, the newly released lower GenX ppt levels will make about 1,700 more private wells eligible for whole house filtration systems.
The concern of GenX contamination of private water wells in area communities is prevalent among County leaders and staff. So far, well water contamination has ranged 10 miles south and 25 miles north of the plant.
The EPA had also listed interim health advisory levels for several other PFAS chemicals: PFOS at .004 ppt and PFOA at.02 ppt. A third chemical, PFBS, did not have significant concentrations in samples taken to date in North Carolina.
The NCDEQ scheduled an in-person community information meeting on Tuesday, July 26, at the Crown Theater. Registration is open at 5:30 p.m., and the meeting starts at 6.
The intent of the meeting is to share information and answer questions about how the EPA’s newly revised lower health advisory for GenX affects drinking water well sampling in Cumberland, Bladen, Sampson and Robeson counties.