Chemours offers carbon filtration units to owners of impacted wells

TAR HEEL — The Chemours Company is offering activated carbon filters to some of its neighbors.

“Given the success of its granular activated carbon (GAC) pilot filtration program, The Chemours Company (Chemours) (NYSE: CC) is offering to install and maintain whole-house GAC filtration systems for all area residents whose drinking water wells have tested above the state provisional health goal of 140 parts per trillion (ppt) for HFPO-Dimer Acid (GenX),” Chemours Fayetteville Works said in a press release.

According to the press release, the offer is “unconditional and requires no commitments, costs or obligations to homeowners other than agreeing to have the systems installed on their property and coordinating with the company’s installation and sampling teams to complete their work.” Chemours says it will regularly test and maintain the systems to ensure their effectiveness.

“We’ve listened to our impacted neighbors and want to address those concerns quickly and effectively,” said Brian Long, Plant Manager, Chemours Fayetteville Works. “We’re committed to making whole-house GAC filtration systems available now to impacted residents, at no cost to them, to ensure they can turn on any faucet and access drinking water throughout the entire house without concern.”

Whole-house carbon filtration systems are estimated to cost the company approximately $10,000 each to install. In a report released earlier this month, Chemours touted the systems as being a more cost-effective solution to the contamination of groundwater with the company’s perflourinated compounds than hooking residents up to municipal water lines, which could cost more than $350,000 per home in some locations.

“Chemours claims that it is ‘too expensive’ for them to pay the cost of permanent water lines, but they made $1.7 billion profit in the first quarter of 2018,” said Tar Heel resident Patsy Sheppard, “so they can well afford to pay what it will cost to provide a permanent solution for clean water to the people (whose) water, land, and air has been permanently contaminated by their toxic chemicals, chemicals that both Chemours and DuPont knew they were discharging illegally and excessively.”

Residents in the area, including Sheppard, as well as at least one scientist, have questioned whether the company will be around in the future to maintain the cost of the systems, which could come with a price tag of $300 per home per month to replace the carbon.

The company claims preliminary results “prove without a doubt” that GAC filtration systems remove GenX and similar compounds from drinking water.

“We’ve done multiple rounds of water sampling over consecutive months at the local pilot sites and are seeing tremendous results,” said Long. “The most recent data from each of the six pilot locations showed that all tested substances were at undetectable levels after carbon filtration in every pilot site. Based on the totality of the results we’ve seen, we are confident that the carbon is effectively removing all the compounds and represents the best solution. In fact, GenX concentrations are being removed to 100 times less than the 140 ng/L health goal.”

The pilot studies to which Long referred were conducted at six properties with well water above 140 ppt, sites selected by the Department of Environment Quality. An independent laboratory sampled biweekly at each property and analyzed the effectiveness of the GAC filters in removing perflourinated compounds.

Mike Watters is a neighbor of DuPont offshoot, and he believes the standards ought to be lower when it comes to people’s health, and GAC is not the solution to the problem. During the pilot testing, a May 3 sample was taken from one of the homes. At least 55.7 ppt of PFOS got through the carbon system, and 106.03 ppt total chemicals.

“This is important,” Watters said, “not because of the GenX health goal of 140 (ppt), but because of the law concerning groundwater.”

According to the Title 15 groundwater standards in North Carolina, “substances which are not naturally occurring and which no standard is specified shall not be permitted in concentrations at or above the practical quanitation limit in class GA or Class GSA groundwaters.”

“This is what DEQ penalizes Chemours for violating, in reference to ground water and should by law be the level Chemours must meet on after GAC filtration to be a viable solution,” Watters believes. “It is slso the levels that should be used in the court order directing who Chemours must pay to run water for.”

Residents who choose to have the GAC system installed will cease to receive bottled water once the GAC system is up and running. Those who decline the filtration system will receive either bottled water or a home improvement store gift card that will allow them to purchase an under-the-sink reverse osmosis unit. Chemours says the latter are “easy to install and are effective in removing GenX and similar compounds from a single tap.”

“Chemours remains committed to being a good neighbor and a leading steward of the environment,” the company said in its press release. “The company is working diligently to decrease its environmental footprint and has taken several steps to achieve its stated goal of a 99% reduction in plant-site GenX and other PFAS chemical compound emissions into the air and water.”

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

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