A Chemours facility in the Netherlands is shipping GenX waste to its counterpart, the Fayetteville Works plant in North Carolina, according to an EPA “Notice of Temporary Objection” obtained by Policy Watch.
The letter dated Dec. 19, 2018, is from Eva Kreisler, an EPA senior attorney to the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure/Water/ Environment in Utrecht. It is unclear from the opening paragraph what the agency is objecting to, but Kreisler writes that the EPA wants to review more “current, detailed information concerning the wastes to be shipped and the management of the wastes.” The letter mentions a Notice of Intent filed by Chemours Netherlands but does not say what is contained in that notice, other than that all wastewaters from Fayetteville Works are being sent to Texas for deep well injection.
Because of the US government shutdown, EPA workers are furloughed and can’t be reached for comment. Policy Watch has asked the NC Department of Environmental Quality for more information, including the agency’s knowledge of these imports and whether they factored into the recent proposed consent order with the company.
The EPA is seeking additional information regarding “the current import shipments of waste and management of [GenX compounds] recovered from Chemours Netherlands” to Chemours in Fayetteville. The agency is asking the Dutch ministry to forward a list of questions to the Netherlands facility, which is in Dordrecht. There are two waste streams coming from the Netherlands to Fayetteville, although the EPA is unclear whether they are combined and where this occurs.
The EPA is also seeking sampling results, toxicity data and chemical composition information from the wastes before they are combined. It also unclear if the Netherlands ships waste to other facilities in the US, and the EPA has asked for copies of international manifests detailing the shipments. Policy Watch is filing a public records request with the Port of Wilmington to try to get similar information.
Kreisler also wrote that the EPA intends to contact the Fayetteville facility about both the international imports and any domestic shipments from other US generators of GenX compounds. It’s unclear if that has happened, because the government shutdown occurred shortly after the letter was written. Policy Watch contacted Chemours’s media office this morning via email.
When the waste arrives at the Fayetteville Works plant, it is presumably reclaimed, according to the EPA letter. However, it’s unclear how much of the waste is reclaimed, how the process occurs, and how any remaining material is disposed of. The EPA mentions that 55 percent of the original waste is placed in containers for disposal.
According to notes obtained by Policy Watch about the EPA letter, there is some concern about whether the Netherlands is exporting the material to the US to circumvent European law, which regulates GenX compounds more stringently. The author of those notes, however, is uncertain.
The US and the Netherlands are member countries of the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development . It has several functions, including encouraging trade and administering a control system for the recovery and import/export of waste. Member countries are expected to adhere to control procedures for waste, depending on the nature of the contaminants. Green controls, according to the OECD website are for more benign waste; amber is for waste that could be considered/is hazardous. Surfactants, such as those produced by Chemours, are classified as amber.