Environment

Chemours forced to remove tons of debris from unlined landfill

One of several semis and dump trucks that hauled debris from Chemours to an unlined landfill last week (Photo: Mike Watters)

Chemours has transported tons of soil and woody debris potentially contaminated with toxic PFAS, including GenX, to an unlined landfill in Fayetteville, according to state investigation prompted by citizen reports.

Now the NC Department of Environmental Quality has required Chemours to retrieve all of that material from Hunt’s Landfill, a Land Clearing and Inert Debris site, and has prohibited it from taking any debris there.

“Additional soil will also be removed from the area in the landfill where the soil and root material had been deposited,” said DEQ spokeswoman Laura Leonard. Chemours intends to take the material to the Robeson County Municipal Solid Waste landfill, which is a lined landfill with environmental monitoring, Leonard said, and DEQ has approved that plan.

DEQ did not cite the company, but Leonard said the agency “is reviewing all information it has obtained to determine whether additional follow-up action is needed.”

Mike Watters of Stop GenX in Our Water learned of the dumping last week, but by accident. “I just happened to be driving over to Huske Dam to look at how high Cape Fear was when I discovered the trucks were coming from that site,” Watters told Policy Watch.

Watters said over the next three hours he observed 22 dump trucks transporting debris from the area near Old Outfall 002 on the Chemours property to the landfill. Stop GenX subsequently alerted DEQ and Policy Watch to the dumping.

After Watters reported the incidents, the NC Department of Transportation and the Lock and Dam master closed the a state-owned access road leading to the plant. According to DEQ emails obtained by Policy Watch, the closure was “based on concerns with several drivers entering the construction area and Chemours property.” Orange barrel barricades remain up with a 12-foot spacing, allowing drivers to pass through to the Lock and Dam area and the other parts of the road as needed.

It is unclear how many tons or cubic feet of waste Chemours took to Hunt’s Landfill. Jeremy Hunt said Chemours removed all of the material last week. Reached at home, he didn’t know how many tons the company dumped. Officials at the Robeson County Landfill could not be reached today; the phone line was repeatedly busy and no one answered an email seeking additional information.

Chemours spokeswoman Lisa Randolph said the company felled trees on the property earlier this year to build a water filtration plant that is required as part of a Consent Order with the state and Cape Fear River Watch. Chemours recently cleared the land of leftover limbs and roots and took them to Hunt’s landfill.

Until 2012, Old Outfall 002 discharged process wastewater containing high levels of PFAS, including GenX, from the DuPont (now Chemours) plant into the Cape Fear River. Studies conducted at the site indicate that groundwater is contaminated with several types of PFAS constituents. Since plants can absorb PFAS through their root systems, and the soil near the old outfall was contaminated, it’s likely that the tree debris would contain the compounds as well.

One of 22 dump trucks or semis that hauled potentially contaminated soil and trees from Chemours to an unlined landfill. (Photo: Mike Watters)

Even though Chemours no longer uses the old outfall, it is building a water filtration facility to capture runoff that could flow through the contaminated area and into the river. The facility is expected to begin operating by Sept. 30.

Land Clearing and Inert Debris landfills, also known as LCIDs, are used to dump yard waste, untreated wood, bushes and trees. Because they aren’t required to be lined, there are restrictions on the type of waste they can accept. For example, LCIDs are prohibited from taking painted lumber, painted brick and block, municipal waste and construction waste because of potential contamination.

According to state inspection records, on Jan. 9 DEQ cited Hunt’s for accepting treated wood, painted block and some plastic. “Better screening of the incoming waste loads needs to occur to ensure all waste accepted meets rule requirements LCID’s before accepting,” the inspection reads.

Similarly, Construction and Demolition landfills, or C&Ds, aren’t lined. Policy Watch reported in April that a study conducted by former EPA scientist Johnsie Lang found high levels of PFAS seeping from those landfills and into the groundwater — presumably from household carpet or even remnants of firefighting foam. C&Ds in North Carolina are required to conduct groundwater monitoring and sampling for a variety of contaminants. PFAS are not among them.

2 Comments


  1. Michael Watters

    June 9, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    Thank You Lisa for looking into this. It is amazing that DEQ is not citing Chemours on this. I can tell you no way did they clean up all of the stuff dumped for near a week in the time between reported and DEQ actually looking into it. I pushed to the EPA as apparently NC DEQ should be defunded as they are incompetent in providing oversight.

  2. Corriente Obrera

    June 16, 2020 at 1:41 am

    SPANISH TRANSLATION of article.
    Thanks Lisa for this ! Our communities in Mexico are fighting against Chemours and their corruption, in trying to establish a plant that will produce over 65 tons of Sodium cyanide, in the Durango/Coahuila region. In their “environmental impact report” , together with local corrupt authorities, they “disappeared” a few communities from the map, in order to show that not many people would be affected, on top of a string of corrupt maneuvers in order to get approval, even having the police repress protesting communities and jailing 10 of them for 2 weeks. So this really helps our communities know what Chemours has been up to in the states. Our email is [email protected] in case you want to contact us.
    CHEMOURS obligados a retirar toneladas de escombros de vertedero no revestido
    Por Lisa Sorg

    Uno de los varios semirremolques y volquetes que transportaron escombros de Chemours a un vertedero sin recubrimiento la semana pasada (Foto: Mike Watters)

    Chemours ha transportado toneladas de tierra y escombros leñosos potencialmente contaminados con PFAS tóxico, incluyendo GenX, a un vertedero sin recubrimiento en Fayetteville, según la investigación estatal impulsada por reportes de ciudadanos.
    Ahora el Departamento de Calidad Ambiental de Carolina del Norte ha exigido a Chemours que retire todo ese material del vertedero de Hunt, un sitio de limpieza de tierras y escombros inertes, y le ha prohibido llevar allí cualquier tipo de escombro.
    “También se retirará tierra adicional del área del vertedero donde se había depositado la tierra y el material de las raíces”, dijo la portavoz del DEQ, Laura Leonard. Chemours tiene la intención de llevar el material al vertedero de residuos sólidos municipales del condado de Robeson, que es un vertedero revestido con vigilancia medioambiental, dijo Leonard, y DEQ ha aprobado ese plan.
    DEQ no sancionó a la compañía, pero Leonard dijo que la agencia “está revisando toda la información que ha obtenido para determinar si se necesitan acciones de seguimiento adicionales”.
    Mike Watters de Stop GenX in Our Water(Alto al GenX en nuestra agua) se enteró del vertido la semana pasada, pero por accidente. “Estaba conduciendo hacia la presa Huske para ver cuán alto estaba el Cape Fear cuando descubrí que los camiones venían de ese lugar”, dijo Watters a Policy Watch.
    Watters dijo que en las tres horas siguientes observó 22 camiones de basura que transportaban escombros desde la zona cercana al Old Outfall 002 en la propiedad de Chemours hasta el vertedero. Posteriormente, Stop GenX alertó a DEQ y a Policy Watch sobre el vertido.
    Después de que Watters reportó los incidentes, el Departamento de Transporte de Carolina del Norte y el maestro de cerradura y represa cerraron el camino de acceso de propiedad del estado que conducía a la planta. Según los correos electrónicos de DEQ obtenidos por Policy Watch, el cierre se “basó en la preocupación de varios conductores que entraron en el área de construcción y en la propiedad de Chemours”. Las barricadas de barril de color naranja permanecen levantadas con un espacio de 12 pies(3,65 mts), lo que permite a los conductores pasar a la zona de la esclusa y la presa y a las otras partes de la carretera según sea necesario.
    No está claro cuántas toneladas o pies cúbicos de residuos llevó Chemours al vertedero de Hunt. Jeremy Hunt dijo que Chemours retiró todo el material la semana pasada. Contactado en su casa, no sabía cuántas toneladas vertió la compañía. Los funcionarios del vertedero del condado de Robeson no pudieron ser localizados hoy; la línea telefónica estuvo repetidamente ocupada y nadie respondió un correo electrónico buscando información adicional.
    La portavoz de Chemours, Lisa Randolph, dijo que la compañía taló árboles en la propiedad a principios de este año para construir una planta de filtración de agua que se requiere como parte de una Orden de Consentimiento con el estado y Cape Fear River Watch. Chemours recientemente limpió la tierra de ramas y raíces sobrantes y las llevó al vertedero de Hunt.

    Hasta 2012, Old Outfall 002 vertió aguas residuales de procesos que contenían altos niveles de PFAS, incluyendo GenX, de la planta de DuPont (ahora Chemours) en el río Cape Fear. Los estudios realizados en el lugar indican que las aguas subterráneas están contaminadas con varios tipos de componentes del PFAS. Dado que las plantas pueden absorber PFAS a través de sus sistemas de raíces, y que el suelo cerca de old outfall estaba contaminado, es probable que los desechos de los árboles también contengan los compuestos.

    Aunque Chemours ya no utiliza old outfall, está construyendo una instalación de filtración de agua para capturar el desagüe que podría fluir a través de la zona contaminada y hacia el río. Se espera que la instalación comience a funcionar el 30 de septiembre.
    Los vertederos de desechos inertes, también conocidos como LCID, se utilizan para arrojar desechos de jardín, madera no tratada, arbustos y árboles. Debido a que no es necesario revestirlos, hay restricciones en el tipo de residuos que pueden aceptar. Por ejemplo, los LCID están prohibidos de aceptar madera pintada, ladrillos y bloques pintados, residuos municipales y residuos de construcción debido a su potencial contaminación.
    Según los registros de inspección del estado, el 9 de enero DEQ sanciono a Hunt por aceptar madera tratada, bloque pintado y algo de plástico. “Una mejor revisión de las cargas de residuos entrantes debe ocurrir para asegurar que todos los residuos aceptados cumplen con los requisitos de la regla LCID antes de aceptarlos”, dice la inspección.
    Del mismo modo, los vertederos de construcción y demolición, o C&Ds, no están revestidos. Policy Watch informó en abril que un estudio realizado por el ex científico de la EPA(agencia de protección ambiental) Johnsie Lang encontró altos niveles de PFAS filtrándose de esos vertederos al agua subterránea – presumiblemente de alfombra de casa o incluso restos de espuma para combatir incendios. En Carolina del Norte se requiere que los C&D lleven a cabo un monitoreo y muestreo de las aguas subterráneas para una variedad de contaminantes. El PFAS no está entre ellos.

Check Also

Sampling results show extremely high levels of hog feces, urine in waterways after lagoon breach

Levels of fecal bacteria at least as high ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis backs legislation that would declare a widespread class of toxic [...]

Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, was scheduled to be executed today at the Federal Correctional Institute in Te [...]

NC State evaluators warn, however, of basic problems in the program's structure Buoyed by a fav [...]

Julia Pimentel Gudiel came to North Carolina from Guatemala for her children. While her four kids st [...]

Nation’s failed response to the pandemic leaves state and local officials in an almost impossible si [...]

The post The GOP’s Back-in-Class or Bust express appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

CHAPEL HILL – Several of my White friends and colleagues have asked me recently what changes are req [...]

For the past month, there has been much said about the current racial climate in America. The eyes o [...]