Fifty pounds? Or less than half a pound?
Last fall, Chemours workers discovered a pinhole leak in a pipe at the Fayetteville Works facility that was emitting a type of PFAS, perfluoropropionyl fluoride, into the air. The company initially estimated about 50 pounds of the compound was released, according to its report to the US Coast Guard National Response Center. The center fields pollution and railroad incidents and forwards that information to appropriate federal and state agencies for response.
Today, in a response to an inquiry from Policy Watch, a Chemours spokeswoman said the amount has since been recalculated to be fourth-tenths of a pound.
It’s hard to gauge what is most accurate, since the amount has not been independently confirmed. For context, Chemours reported to DEQ that in the entire year of 2016 it had emitted 66.6 pounds of GenX-related compounds. That figure turned out to be a drastic underestimate. The state Division of Air Quality conducted its own study and calculated the facility emitted roughly 2,700 pounds in 2016.
Zaynab Nasif, spokeswoman for the state Division of Air Quality said the agency is “currently evaluating any potential enforcement action at this time and continuing to follow up with Chemours’s evaluation of the incident, as well.”
The recent release occurred on Nov. 22, 2019, in the Vinyl Ethers North Tower, according to correspondence between the company and state environmental regulators. Workers discovered the leak incidentally, while they were conducting stack testing. Chemours subsequently “followed shutdown and decontamination procedures” so the hole could be repaired.
The European Chemicals Agency lists the substance as potentially “fatal if inhaled and contains gas under pressure and may explode if heated.”
Chemours provided nebulizers to workers who were potentially exposed to the compound, but the company said none became ill.