Apr 10, 2018

North Carolina Orders Plant to Manage Emerging Contaminant GenX

Chemours chemical plant has three weeks to prove they can manage groundwater contamination, or all GenX air emissions will be prohibited

Emerging contaminant GenX to be regulated by North Carolina DEQ

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has ordered Chemours chemical plant to prevent air emissions from contaminating groundwater with emerging contaminant GenX. The chemical plant, located just south of Fayetteville, N.C., has been given three weeks to prove it can control the carcinogen, as reported by The Fayetteville Observer.  

“Chemours must show to DEQ’s satisfaction that they can operate without further  contamination of groundwater or we will prohibit all GenX air emissions,” DEQ Secretary Michael Regan said in a news release.

This order comes in light of recent rainwater tests by DEQ from late February and early March which found GenX at levels between 45 and 810 ppt up to seven miles away from the chemical plant. Chemours has reported efforts to control air emissions of GenX that ultimately end up in groundwater and sediments such as disposing of contaminated sediment, installing granular activated carbon absorption systems, and plans to install a thermal oxidizer. The recent rainwater samples, however, have given DEQ reason to be sceptical of Chemours efforts.

Little is known about the emerging contaminant GenX that replaced per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and is commonly found in products such as non-stick cookware, laptops and cell phones. Scant research has been done on the contaminants health effects and risk level as of yet. Recently, GenX groundwater contamination has been found in Cape Fear River and drinking water treated at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant by researchers from N.C. State University.