RALEIGH – State officials believe elevated concentrations of GenX found at a water treatment facility along the Cape Fear River can be attributed to an Oct. 6 spill from a manufacturing line at Chemours’ facility in Fayetteville, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality announced yesterday. In addition, state officials directed Chemours to provide bottled water to 34 more well owners based on results from the latest round of private well testing.
The results with elevated concentrations of GenX were from water samples collected Oct. 6-12. Additional test results show concentrations of GenX at the Bladen Bluffs facility dropping back below the state health goal later in October.
Surface water testing shows elevated GenX following Oct. 6 spill
DEQ test results of surface water quality found that concentrations of GenX exceeded the provisional state health goal at the Bladen Bluffs water treatment facility. On Oct. 9, three days after the spill the concentration of GenX at the Bladen facility was 253 parts per trillion, nearly double the state’s health goal of 140 parts per trillion.
When the spill occurred on Oct. 6, the latest DEQ data showed that the concentration of GenX at the Chemours’ wastewater discharge outfall was 213 parts per trillion and by Oct. 9 that figure had climbed to 695 parts per trillion at the outfall. The wastewater discharge outfall is not a source of drinking water.
On Nov. 16, DEQ cited Chemours and then moved to revoke the company’s permit to discharge process wastewater because of the company’s permit violations and its failure to report the Oct. 6 spill.
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.
“We will continue to hold Chemours accountable to ensure we’re doing everything possible to protect peoples’ drinking water,” said Michael Regan, secretary of DEQ.
For the weeks prior to the Oct. 6 spill, DEQ’s test results showed concentrations of GenX at the Bladen Bluffs facility consistently below the provisional health goal. Likewise, preliminary state test results indicate that by mid-October concentrations of GenX had again dropped below the health goal at Bladen Bluffs water treatment facility.
Test results released today measured concentrations of GenX, PFOA and PFOS at Chemours’ wastewater discharge outfall and five drinking water treatment plants in the Lower Cape Fear. Concentrations of GenX were below the health goal in finished drinking water at International Paper, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, Northwest Brunswick and Pender County Utility water treatment plants. Levels for PFOA and PFOS were below the EPA’s 70 parts per trillion health goal at all locations tested Oct. 6-12.
The latest round of surface water results includes testing for an expanded list of chemical compounds. Of those, only PFOA, PFOS and GenX have established health goals. DEQ will continue to conduct water quality monitoring in the Cape Fear River and will release the results of testing as soon as they are available.
More people using bottled water after latest results of private well testing near Chemours
State officials also released the latest results of private well testing near Chemours. DEQ has now directed Chemours to provide bottled water to 34 more well owners near the company’s Fayetteville Works facility after preliminary test results from the company’s expanded sampling show GenX above the state’s provisional health goal in residential drinking wells.
In mid-October, Chemours expanded its sampling to 450 parcels one mile from the facility’s property boundary. Of those sampled, the state has verified results for 107 wells that were tested Oct. 11-19. Of those 107 wells, 48 showed detections of GenX below the health goal and 25 wells showed no detections of GenX.
There are now 85 residential well owners living near Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility who are receiving bottled water because of GenX detections above the provisional state health goal of 140 parts per trillion. The expanded sampling will include more than twice as many wells as the sampling conducted by Chemours and DEQ.
“We will continue to demand sampling of private drinking wells so we can determine where the contamination ends and we will direct Chemours to continue providing bottled water to all residents using affected wells,” Regan said. “We realize, however, this is a short-term solution and we are already in discussions with local officials about providing residents a permanent source of clean drinking water source.”
On Nov. 20, DEQ officials met with representatives from Bladen and Cumberland counties and discussed alternative water solutions. Both counties and the state are looking into several long-term water solutions, including digging deeper wells, installing water filters on homes or running water lines to residents whose wells tested above the state’s provisional drinking water health goal.
More information about the state’s ongoing testing and investigation of fluorinated compounds can be found at: https://deq.nc.gov/news/hot-topics/genx-investigation.