The NC Department of Environmental Quality today announced it has fined Chemours $305,611 in civil penalties for exceeding facility-wide GenX annual air emissions limits at its Fayetteville Works plant in northern Bladen County.
Combined with a $200,000 fine in March related to water quality violations and the disposal of potentially contaminated soil, the total fines assessed to the company for 2021 top a half million dollars.
“DEQ is holding Chemours accountable and ensuring they meet the requirements of their permit at all times,” said DEQ Secretary Elizabeth S. Biser in a prepared statement. “They must uphold their obligations to reduce PFAS impacts to their neighbors in the community.”
GenX is one of thousands of types of PFAS, also known as perfluorinated and polyfluoroalkyl substances. It has been linked to serious health effects, including thyroid disorders, kidney and testicular cancer, reproductive problems and decreased immune response. The EPA is expected to release a full toxicological assessment of GenX this fall.
Under the stringent emissions requirements in the facility’s air permit, Chemours must demonstrate compliance with the GenX emission limit of 23.027 pounds per year, using a rolling 12-month calculation. This limit equates to a 99% percent reduction from GenX emissions in 2017.
Excess GenX emissions in March 2021 resulted in noncompliance with the rolling 12-month limits for the seven months from March through September 2021. DEQ cited the company in late August for the air quality violations.
Based on the information reviewed by DAQ as part of its investigation, including the stack test results and the written response by Chemours, the Division of Air Quality determined the Carbon Adsorber Unit was not properly operated or maintained from the date of the stack test for 26 days. The unit has since been repaired; DAQ Director Mike Abraczinskas told the state Science Advisory Board today that emissions have since decreased, and the company is in compliance with the air permit and a 2019 consent order among DEQ, Chemours, and Cape Fear River Watch.