Chemours could be fined after state environmental regulators cited the company for dumping soil and tree roots likely contaminated with perfluorinated compounds into an unlined landfill.
The NC Department of Environmental Quality found that Chemours failed to test the material for PFAS contamination before transporting multiple loads of soil and other yard waste from the Fayetteville Works facility for disposal in an unlined landfill.
“We will not tolerate irresponsible actions or attempts to cut corners that risk further impacts to the surrounding communities and to water quality,” said DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan in a prepared statement.
Based on a tip from citizen watchdog Mike Watters, Policy Watch reported earlier this month that Chemours was hauling soil and tree stumps from Old Outfall No. 2, an area near the Fayetteville Works plant known to be contaminated with PFAS.
Watters also alerted DEQ to the activity.
Watters told Policy watch that within just three hours he observed 22 dump trucks taking the material to Hunt’s Land Construction and Inert Debris Landfill, which is unlined. he landfill is authorized to accept uncontaminated land clearing and inert debris.
Jeremy Hunt, who owns the landfill, told DEQ that Chemours dumped 32 loads of mostly yard waste and six loads of tree roots and soil.
DEQ ordered Chemours to remove the material from Hunt’s landfill. Chemours intended to then take it to the Robeson County landfill, which is lined.
There is well-documented and pervasive PFAS contamination at the Chemours facility, including soil data showing PFAS contamination in areas near the site location from which the soil was taken and disposed of at the unlined landfill, DEQ said.
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.
Chemours spokeswoman Lisa Randolph told Policy Watch at the time that 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, she said.
Chemours must submit a plan to DEQ within 15 days of the violation that describes how the company removed and disposed of the material, as well as a plan to ensure it properly disposes of waste in the future.
The agency is considering fining Chemours for the latest violation. The company has already been cited nearly a dozen times since 2017 for air, groundwater and other violations related to GenX and PFAS.