State officials put Chemours on notice of pending air permit restrictions

By: Staff report

RALEIGH – The N.C. Division of Air Quality on Friday moved to require Chemours to demonstrate within three weeks that air emissions at the Fayetteville Works facility can be controlled at a level that will halt contributions to groundwater violations. The requirement is included in a 60-day notice that was issued to the company informing them of the division’s intent to modify the facility’s air permit.

“Chemours must show to DEQ’s satisfaction that they can operate without further contamination of groundwater or we will prohibit all GenX air emissions,” said DEQ Secretary Michael Regan.

As outlined in the 60-day notice, Chemours must show compliance with all legal requirements for retention of the current terms of the its air quality permit. By April 27, Chemours must respond to the notice and demonstrate that emissions from the facility do not contribute to groundwater violations. The demonstration may be based on current plant operating conditions or alternate operating conditions proposed by the company.

Based on the company’s response, one of the following will occur:

— If Chemours fails to submit a timely response, or if DAQ finds that Chemours’ response fails to demonstrate that the facility’s emissions do not contribute to groundwater violations, then the agency will proceed with permit modification to prohibit emissions of GenX, effective on the modification date.

— If Chemours submits a timely response and DAQ finds that Chemours has met its burden of demonstrating that emissions will not contribute to groundwater violations under current operating conditions, the permit will not be modified.

— If Chemours submits a timely response and DAQ finds that Chemours has met its burden of demonstrating that emissions will not cause or contribute to groundwater violations under alternate operating conditions proposed by the company, the state will modify the permit by adding enforceable conditions that correspond with the alternate operating conditions that will take effect on the modification date.

Friday’s action comes as DAQ specialists completed review of test results showing concentrations of GenX compounds in rainwater collected near the Chemours facility and air emissions measurements from stacks at the site.

DAQ tested rainwater for GenX compounds during rain events Feb. 28 through March 2 and found GenX levels between 45 parts per trillion and 810 parts per trillion at 13 locations within seven miles of the facility. The state’s provisional health goal of 140 parts per trillion for drinking water should not be compared to rainwater concentrations as the latter is not intended for direct consumption.

As required and overseen by DAQ, Chemours also tested air emissions coming from its stacks in January and provided the state with that data along with calculations of any possible emissions coming from other equipment at the facility. With the added measurements of direct emissions, DAQ estimates Chemours’ annual GenX emissions to be more than 2,700 pounds, or approximately 40 times higher than originally reported in early 2017 and four times higher than their revised estimate submitted to DAQ in October 2017.

The data release marks the third batch of results from analyses of rainwater collected near Chemours. In late February, DAQ released the results of rainwater tests with concentrations of GenX ranging from non-detects and 5.2 parts per trillion to 630 parts per trillion on Jan. 28-29 and 9.98 parts per trillion to 286 parts per trillion on Feb. 4-5. DAQ has collected a control sample in Raleigh for each of the rain events, and no GenX has been detected there.

For additional information about the state’s investigation of GenX and other emerging compounds, visit https://deq.nc.gov/news/hot-topics/genx-investigation.

Staff report