Late this afternoon, the state Department of Environmental Quality is investigating reports of an air emissions leak at Chemours’ Fayetteville facility and whether the leak constitutes a violation of the company’s air permit.
According to an agency press release, Chemours’ officials reported on Wednesday morning that the leak occurred Tuesday at 5:40 p.m. in the company’s vinyl ether manufacturing area. The leak, which came from a condensation tower, lasted an estimated 13 hours before the company stopped it. The company was able to isolate the equipment and repair a valve they believe to be the source of the leak.
Based on information provided by Chemours, 55 pounds of hexafluoropropylene oxide — GenX — and 70 pounds of HFPO dimer acid fluoride — a precursor to GenX — were released.
State environmental officials believe that air emissions of GenX have contaminated groundwater near the plant. This has occurred through atmospheric deposition: contaminated air emissions fall to the ground and then seep into the water. In turn, the contaminated groundwater flows into private drinking water wells, in turn polluting them.
This incident marks yet another deficiency at Chemours plant. Earlier this week, DEQ announced it would suspend the company’s wastewater discharge permit, effective Nov. 30, because Chemours failed to report an illegal spill on Oct. 6. DEQ plans to revoke the discharge permit after the legally mandatory 60-day waiting period.
DEQ is also continuing to monitor air quality emissions as part of its investigation.