Environment

Secret Chemours spill causes spike in GenX levels at water treatment plant

An aerial view of the Bladen Bluffs Water Treatment Plant in Leland (Photo: Lower Cape Fear River Authority)

Levels of GenX at the Bladen Bluffs water treatment plant in Brunswick County were nearly double the state’s provisional health goal after an unreported chemical spill occurred upstream at the Chemours plant.

The NC Department of Environmental Quality announced the finding today.

On Oct. 9, three days after the accident at the Fayetteville Works plant, levels of GenX in treated water reached 253 parts per trillion at Bladen Bluffs, in Leland. The provisional health goal for drinking water is 140 ppt. Before the spill, Bladen Bluffs had consistently reported no detection of GenX in finished water. The treatment plant is part of the Lower Cape Fear River Authority, while provides wholesale regional raw water supply services to local governments and industry in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, and Pender Counties.

Chemours did not report the spill to DEQ, as legally required, until early November, after routine sampling results revealed GenX levels of 619 ppt at one of the plant’s discharge points. On Nov. 16, DEQ cited Chemours and then moved to revoke the company’s permit to discharge process wastewater because of the company’s permit violations and its failure to report the Oct. 6 spill.

Meanwhile, another 34 households are being supplied with bottled water by Chemours after private drinking water wells tested above the health goal for GenX. These wells are located near the company’s Fayetteville Works facility. The recent additions bring the total number of affected households to 85. Forty-eight more wells also contain GenX but at levels below the 140 ppt benchmark set by the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

On Nov. 20, DEQ officials met with representatives from Bladen and Cumberland counties and discussed alternative water solutions. Long-term replacement options including digging deeper wells, installing water filters on homes or running water lines to residents whose wells tested above the state’s provisional drinking water health goal. Chemours presumably would have to pay for those upgrades.

2 Comments


  1. richard manyes

    November 28, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Wait, so this is yet another spill (or worse, it could be an ongoing discharge). This is not the same spill as the one Chemours did not report in October – this is another one. I know this is difficult – keeping up with the number of times Chemours has discharged Genx – the number of times deq has threatened the company with something – and then the number of times deq has done nothing after all – but try to pay attention.

    What is going on is that the current administration must be very cozy with Chemours. From the initial proclamation of Chemours’ blanket innocence by none other than the deq secretary before he had time to even be briefed, to the sweetheart deal made in private in the Bladen County conference room, to the ongoing butter-knife rattling by deq when the next slug of Genx is dumped into our drinking water supply.

    At some point, deq should stop blocking the federal citizen suit and CFPUA will get some real results.

  2. funfundvierzig

    November 29, 2017 at 7:11 am

    The ethically crippled bosses of Chemours, or rather Shamours will evade accountability at all costs. The criminal investigation should proceed with dispatch to protect the people of North Carolina from the brazen contempt shown for decades by DuPont and Shamours to human life and health and to expose the politicians corporate lobbyists have in their pockets.

    …funfun..

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