Within about a month, Chemours reported two spills of GenX-contaminated wastewater at its Fayetteville Works plant — in one case, because of human error.
The first spill occurred on Saturday, Dec. 9, when effluent from a Cell Lab unexpectedly overflowed and leaked onto rocks and soil, according to Chemour, which reported the incident a Dec. 11 letter sent to state environmental officials. The leak was contained, and Chemours estimates the amount of GenX that escaped to be less than .00052 of an ounce (five ten-thousands). The contaminant had been diluted by large amounts of other liquid, such as rain and sodium hydroxide, also known as lye.
Chemours reasoned that the leak occurred because the two 550-gallon “totes” or tanks, received more water than usual because of rain and the extra effluent that DEQ is requiring to be captured and shipped offsite.
After excavating 48 square feet of dirt, 4 to 6 inches deep, workers determined that the contaminated water had not reached a nearby storm ditch or the outfall, which leads to the Cape Fear River.
The second spill occurred on Sunday, Jan. 14, when the wrong truck was sent to pick up wastewater. The truck was supposed to hold 7,000 gallons, but it could contain only 5,500 gallons. About 10 gallons of wastewater spilled, and of that amount, about 3-thousands of an ounce was GenX, according to a letter Chemours sent to DEQ the next day. Workers used a vacuum to remove the contamination, and the area was rinsed and re-vacuumed.