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Chemours estimates 1,545 more NC households with GenX-contaminated wells could be eligible for alternative water

This map was published by DEQ before the EPA released its new, more stringent health advisory goals for GenX in June. Under the new recommendations, Chemours estimates another 1,545 households on private wells would be eligible for alternative water supplies, at company expense.

Chemours estimates it would be required to provide alternative water supplies to an additional 1,545 households in North Carolina whose private wells are contaminated with GenX – the result of more stringent EPA recommendations, an NC Department of Environmental Quality official said today.

Currently, Chemours provides alternative water supplies to 245 well owners in North Carolina whose water tested above 140 parts per trillion for GenX. That threshold was based on a health advisory goal set in 2018 by the state health department.

However, on June 22 the EPA established stricter health advisory goals for the several types of perfluorinated compounds, including GenX, in drinking water. The EPA’s new goal of 10 parts per trillion in drinking water, replaces the previous threshold of 70 ppt.

Now, well owners whose drinking water tested between 10 ppt and 140 ppt would be eligible for an alternative supply. Based on the number and level of contaminants, alternatives include a granulated activated carbon system, whole-house filtration using reverse osmosis, or municipal water, depending on the household’s proximity to public lines.

DEQ is hosting a public meeting on Tuesday, July 26 about the impacts of the new EPA goals on private well owners. The meeting will be held at the Crown Theatre, 1960 Coliseum Drive in Fayetteville, at 6 p.m.

DEQ asked Chemours last fall to revise its drinking water compliance plan in anticipation of a new health advisory goal for GenX. However, Chemours submitted the new estimate and other information to DEQ only yesterday — the same day the company announced it would contest the EPA’s new goals in federal court.

Masemore said DEQ is still reviewing the company’s latest documents. The agency had estimated at least 1,700 private well owners would be eligible for whole-building filtration or public water systems, more than Chemours’s projections.

The cost to Chemours to provide alternative water supplies to 1,545 more well owners would likely exceed $200 million, based on the terms of a 2019 consent order between Chemours, DEQ and Cape Fear River Watch. As part of that agreement, Chemours pays a maximum of $75,000 per household for installation and maintenance. For homes connected to a public system, the company must pay up to $75 per month for water bills for 20 years.

Dana Sargent, executive director of Cape Fear River Watch, issued a statement about Chemours’s legal action: “For Chemours to fight this long-awaited notice from EPA that this stuff can kill people continues to expose Chemours for the kind of company they are: one founded on the principle of greed and one sustaining their predecessor DuPont’s decades of disregard for the health of their community, the environment, and the world-at-large, which is just now taking stock of the damage these treacherous corporations have done – damage that can’t be reversed.”

A publicly traded company, Chemours reported net income of $234 million, based on net sales of $1.8 billion, in the first quarter of 2022 alone. The next earnings call is July 28.

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Chemours estimates 1,545 more NC households with GenX-contaminated wells could be eligible for alternative water