Beginning tomorrow, the Chemours company will “capture, remove, and safely dispose of wastewater” that contains the byproduct GenX generated at its manufacturing plant in Fayetteville. The company announced late this afternoon that it would eliminate discharge containing GenX into the Cape Fear River, a drinking water supply. GenX has been detected in the Cape Fear near Wilmington; the chemical isn’t removed during traditional treatment at municipal plants.
Last week, state environmental officials and county leaders said they had “strongly encouraged” Chemours to stop discharging the chemical. At the time, Chemours officials said they would try to reduce the amount of GenX, but did not commit to eliminating it outright.
The EPA considers GenX an “emerging contaminant,” one whose safety effects and thresholds have yet to be studied and determined. There is no drinking water standard for GenX.
In its statement, the company said it “continues to believe that emissions from its Fayetteville facility have not impacted the safety of drinking water. However, Chemours will take these additional steps, embracing its role as a significant employer and member of the community.”
The timing of the announcement is notable. The NC Department of Environmental Quality started sampling water in the Cape Fear and at the Chemours plant yesterday. The agency and will continue those tests through Thursday, and then resample at the same locations over the next three weeks.
Also tomorrow the Cape Fear River Watch is hosting a community forum about GenX and the company. It runs from 6-8 p.m. at the Coast Line Conference Center, 501 Nutt St. in Wilmington.