Environment

Sediment from PFAS-contaminated Chemours site heading down the Cape Fear River

An “apparent increase” in dirt and sediment potentially contaminated with perfluorinated compounds — PFAS — is headed from the Chemours plant down the Cape Fear River.

In an email sent at 7:32 p.m. yesterday, Christel Compton, Chemours Fayetteville Works environmental manager notified the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority of the sediment release.

The sediment spilled into the River occurred while contractors were building a system to capture and treat contamination at the Old Outfall 2, Compton wrote. Old Outfall 2 is a highly contaminated area of the Chemours site. Until 2012, the company discharged process wastewater containing high levels of PFAS, including GenX, from the plant into the Cape Fear River. Studies conducted at the site indicate that groundwater is contaminated with several types of PFAS.

The treatment system is required under a Consent Order between the NC Department of Environmental Quality, Chemours and Cape Fear River Watch.

“We have ceased, pending further review, the specific construction activity that took place over the last day that we believe may have contributed to this increase,” Compton wrote in the email, as quoted by CFPUA. ” We do not know at this time whether any increase in sediments will also result in a short-term increase in PFAS levels downstream.”

Chemours said it is sampling the material and would notify the utility of the results.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority announced it has begun more-frequent sampling of raw water from the river as a result of the sediment release. The CFPUA has also asked the NC Department of Environmental Quality for guidance.

This is the second time the construction site has potentially spread contamination off Chemours property.

Policy Watch reported last month that Chemours had hauled nearly 40 dump trucks’ worth of dirt, tree stumps and roots from the Old Outfall 002 area  to an unlined construction and debris landfill.

DEQ cited Chemours with a Notice of Violation, and could fine the company.

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