The NC Department of Environmental Quality has fined Chemours $198,929.16 for various environmental violations, including the company’s failure to comply with several conditions of a 2019 consent order, the agency announced this afternoon.
The consent order required Chemours to install several upgrades at its Fayetteville Works plant, including a wastewater treatment system to prevent residual contamination from GenX and other perfluorinated compounds from entering the Cape Fear River.
However, the treatment system, which began operating at old Outfall 002 last September, was inadequately designed and at times DEQ has demanded payment of $127,000 in stipulated penalties because the system didn’t consistently meet the requirements of the consent order. The terms of the consent order assessed penalties ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 a day; DEQ calculated that Chemours had violated the order for at least 67 days last fall.
Chemours has reconfigured the treatment system several times since last September. The treatment system at Old Outfall 002 is currently working as intended to remove PFAS from the contaminated stream channel before it reaches the river, DEQ said in a press release. DEQ continues to monitor the performance of the treatment system to verify that the design improvements are sufficient to ensure ongoing compliance with the Consent Order.
Several divisions within DEQ assessed additional penalties:
- The Division of Water Resources assessed a civil penalty of $38,437.16 for violations of the discharge permit for the treatment system at old Outfall 002. This included improper operation and maintenance, as well failing to remove 99% of GenX and another perfluorinated compound, PFMAA, from entering the Cape Fear River.
- The Division of Waste Management Administrative Penalty of $28,492.00 for improper disposal of excavated soil during the construction of the treatment system at Old Outfall 002.
- The Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources Civil Penalty Assessment of $5,000 for land-disturbance and stormwater violations related to the construction and installation of the Seep C treatment system.
The NPDES permit is limited to treatment of the contaminated stream waters at Old Outfall 002. Since 2017, Chemours has been and is still prohibited from discharging process wastewater. The company transports that contaminated water for disposal in Texas and Arkansas.
The in-stream treatment cell at Seep C is one of four interim treatment measures required under the Addendum to the Consent Order to address contaminated groundwater reaching the river. Additional seep treatment locations are scheduled to be completed by April 2021.
“DEQ is committed to protecting communities and their water quality and ensuring that Chemours meets all its requirements and obligations, including those under the Consent Order to prevent PFAS from entering the Cape Fear River,” said Secretary Dionne Delli-Gatti. “We will take all appropriate enforcement actions, whenever they fall short of those obligations.”