Chemours plans to expand its Fayetteville Works plant in northern Bladen County, where the company would ramp up production of PFA, a type of perfluorinated compound.
PFA belongs to the larger family of perfluorinated compounds, of which there are at least 10,000. They are known to be toxic in drinking water; many, including PFOA, PFOS and GenX have been linked to several types of cancers, reproductive problems, low-birth weight and thyroid disorders, among other serious health conditions. They are known as “forever chemicals” because the don’t break down in the environment. Chemours is responsible for contaminating the Lower Cape Fear River Basin with GenX, which is present in the drinking water — both public and private — of hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians.
Chemours will increase its production of PFA for use in the semiconductor industry, according to a press release. It is the only U.S. producer of PFA.
On Sept. 20 and 21, Chemours will hold two public information sessions about its expansions plans. It is still unclear how the company will produce greater amounts of PFA and still comply with discharge and emissions limits that are laid out in the consent order with the state and Cape Fear River Watch. For example, Chemours is required to limit its air emissions of perfluorinated compounds by 99%. The company is also building an underground barrier wall to keep the compounds out of the river. Until the wall is complete, compounds will continue to enter the Cape Fear, albeit in sharply reduced amounts.
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 5-7 p.m.
- Location: Bladen Community College Auditorium, 7418 NC Hwy 41 West, Dublin
Wednesday, Sept. 21, 5-7 p.m.
- Location: Leland Cultural Arts Center, 1212 Magnolia Village Way, Leland
The expansion announcement came a month after an investor call when a Chemours officials predicted recent EPA actions could financially cost the company. Bloomberg Law quoted the company as saying, “It is reasonably possible that additional costs could be incurred in connection with EPA’s actions, however, we cannot estimate the potential impact or additional cost at this time.”
The EPA tightened its interim health advisory levels of .004 parts per trillion for PFOA and .02 ppt for PFOS in drinking water. Previous advisory levels were far higher, 70 ppt. The EPA also announced last week that it plans to regulate PFAS as hazardous waste under Superfund law, which would place additional restrictions on their disposal.