Environment

In the Netherlands, Chemours washes its hands of GenX waste, fails to monitor for it

Chemours in Dordrecht, the Netherlands (Photo: Chemours website)

This post has been updated with a comment from Chemours.

The Chemours plant in Dordrecht shipped waste containing GenX compounds for processing, but failed to both sample for them and to keep proper records on the type and origin of the waste, according to a Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate report issued in July 2018. The waste haulers are unaware they’re carrying GenX compounds, which potentially contaminate the shipping containers.

The inspectorate’s investigation showed that “little or no attention is given to [GenX] substances in waste throughout the entire chain,” and that the substances “re consequently emitted into the environment at various places in the chain. An overview of where and to what extent emissions into the environment occur cannot be provided at this time based on the information currently available.”

Chemours determines whether a waste flow contains GenX compounds based on the production process, but the inspectorate said it couldn’t establish that Chemours uses any formal methods to verify that. “Chemours takes no measurements to determine whether [GenX] substances are in the waste. The waste substances’ records of Chemours do not always show what the type and origin of the waste flows are. This led in one case to the discovery of a waste flow that evidently contained [GenX] substances, while they should not have been present based on the production process,” the report reads.

The waste processors don’t test the material for GenX compounds. And the inspectorate noted that transport companies deliver Chemours waste but don’t always clean their tankers afterward, nor do they test for traces of GenX compounds.

“These vehicles may then be used to transport other (waste) flows, which may then become contaminated” with GenX compounds, the report reads. If the haulers do clean their tanks, the rinse water could contain GenX compounds. “The cleaning companies discharge this rinse water into the sewer,” the report read.

Lisa Randall, communications lead for Chemours, said the company reviewed the report when it appeared “and communicated our strong disagreement with several of the observations. The suggestion that Chemours does not know what our waste contains or where it goes is false. Our waste process is carefully managed and we closely track waste discharge. All of the GenX that is brought to North Carolina is either recycled or incinerated out of state.  We consistently share relevant information with involved parties including waste handlers, waste transporters and the regulatory agencies in the locations where we operate.  We have an unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship and are delivering on our commitment to reduce the emission of all PFAS compounds at our Fayetteville site at least 99 percent by the end of 2019.”

When Chemours in Fayetteville transports its GenX-contaminated waste to Texas or other offsite locations, it is shipped with a Class 9 placard on the truck, said a DEQ spokesperson, which indicates it contains an environmentally hazardous substance. A shipping manifest also indicates the waste is hazardous.

There is now a bottleneck in recycling and processing the waste abroad, according to an article published today in a Dutch news outlet. Since the Italian recycler Miteni declared bankruptcy, Chemours in Dordrecht has few places to process the GenX waste.

Until recently, the article reads, the Italian recycler processed the compounds, then sent them back to Chemours in Dordrecht for reuse. Transport documents show that in 2015 and 2016, Chemours sent 100 tons each year to Italy for processing. Now that Miteni is out of business, Chemours must get back the material or find another processor — not in the US. Because the EPA has temporarily objected to further imports of the GenX-containing compounds  from the Netherlands to the Fayetteville Works facility, Chemours in Dordrecht can store it for up to one year.

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