This post has been updated with a comment from DEQ.
The Star-News in Wilmington is reporting that the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of NC has issued a criminal subpoena to the NC Department of Environmental Quality asking for all records and correspondence regarding Chemours’s Fayetteville plant and its discharge of GenX into the Cape Fear River.
DEQ will comply, the Star-News quoted a spokesman as saying.
DEQ has to provide the records by Aug. 22. That’s one day after the state attorney general’s deadline for Chemours to turn over extensive internal documentation regarding the chemical. Two weeks ago, NC Attorney General Josh Stein made a “civil demand,” requiring the company, a spinoff of DuPont, to produce the material by Aug. 21. Gov. Roy Cooper has also directed the State Bureau of Investigation to determine whether a criminal probe is warranted.
Today, Stein held a press conference outlining the department’s layoffs, which include an environmental attorney working on clean water regulations in conjunction with DEQ. However, Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Brewer said that the Chemours investigation is being conducted by the Consumer Protection Division and won’t be affected by that attorney’s forced departure. The personnel cutbacks at the Justice Department are occurring because the state legislature nearly halved its budget, a move that appears to be political payback.
DEQ Communications Director Jamie Kritzer said the agency is continuing its investigation of Chemours “using available resources.” “North Carolina needs to devote more resources to protecting water quality, not less,” Kritzer added. “However, we need sustainable, long-term support to address unregulated compounds, which we’re asking legislators to authorize.”