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Update: DEQ Sec’y Regan says “all legal options” could be used on Chemours

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DEQ Secretary Michael Regan (Photo: DEQ)

NCPW reported on the EPA findings earlier today. Read the story [2]and check back for updates.

During a media call today, NC Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan said the state could subpoena Chemours’s company health and scientific studies on the unregulated compounds it’s discharging into the Cape Fear River.

While that data is proprietary and most likely could not be publicly released without a court order, the information could better equip state environmental and health officials to evaluate possible health effects from exposure to emerging chemicals.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said there are no publicly available scientific studies on these newly discovered perfluorochlorinated compounds, including two known as Nafion byproducts. Without that information, the DHHS toxicologist cannot determine a health goal or standard for them. Absent that information, Cohen said, her department’s recommendation stands: The water is safe to drink.

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DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen (Photo: DHHS)

The call was arranged after DEQ and the DHHS announced today that the EPA had analyzed state samples and found that additional and undisclosed chemicals had been found at the Chemours discharge points and in the drinking water at Wilmington’s Sweeney plant. Concentrations of two of those chemicals, known as Nafion byproducts, have not decreased, even while levels of GenX and three other previously unknown compounds have.

House Republicans accused DEQ and the Cooper administration of withholding important information about the new findings. However, Cohen said the EPA “briefed” state officials via a PowerPoint presentation on Monday, but the final report was not received from the federal government until this morning.

Regan said DEQ staff is methodically combing through the 50,000 pages of information that Chemours provided this week as part of the department’s demand for information. After that review is complete, DEQ will know better if a violation has occurred, Regan said. That review will also inform the department’s decision about whether to renew Chemours’s discharge permit, and if so, what restrictions to place on the company. Regan reiterated that if the permit is renewed, Chemours will not be allowed to discharge GenX and any other emerging compounds or contaminants of concern.

DEQ sent a letter to Chemours demanding it immediately provide additional information about the latest findings. Regan said Chemours acknowledged the correspondence and that the company said it would do so “ASAP.”