Wilmington-based chemical company Chemours is facing a citation and possible fine from North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality for failing to report a chemical spill in an Eastern river.
Chemours’ discharge permit for its Fayetteville facility will be partially suspended on Nov. 30 because they didn’t report an October spill in North Carolina’s Cape Fear River.
Jamie Kritzer, a spokesman for North Carolina’s environmental department, says the state still expects Chemours to divert its wastewater contaminated with a compound called “GenX” for disposal off-site.
“We think this is feasible because the company has been capturing and diverting already significant amounts of this processed wastewater,” Kritzer said.
North Carolina’s Cape Fear River is a source of drinking water for at least 200,000 people in the southeastern and eastern portions of the state.
“We’ve been committing all available resources to the insurance that people's’ drinking water is safe in that area,” Kritzer said. “Because of that, we’re devoting everything we’ve got that’s available to keep the levels of GenX down.”
They’re directing Chemours to give bottled water to residents, as they search for a more permanent solution.
In an email to Delaware Public Media, Chemours spokesman Gary Cambre said the company believes the penalty is not warranted, but they plan to meet with North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality to discuss how to move forward.
“The company has worked in good faith to cooperate fully with all of DEQ’s requests, including capturing all wastewater they have previously requested that we capture,” Cambre said. “While we do not believe there is a legal basis on which to suspend or revoke the permit, we will accept the DWR’s invitation in its letter that we meet with them and look forward to discussing a path forward.”
He continued, “We remain committed to operating this facility, which employs hundreds of North Carolina residents, in accordance with all applicable laws and in a manner that respects the environment and public health and safety.”
Kritzer says Chemours may face a fine, but that has not yet been determined.
North Carolina officials are also looking into an air emissions leak at the company’s Fayetteville facility that happened last week.
In September, the department sent Chemours a letter notifying them about an a possible suspension of their permit in 60 days unless they agreed to capture and divert GenX to an off-site treatment, Kritzer said. They went to court that month to discuss whether or not Chemours met the state’s requirements.
In October, the state’s environmental department told Chemours it wouldn’t be necessary to suspend their discharge permit. Shortly after that, Kritzer said, newer findings showed high concentrations of GenX in Chemours’ outfall. Environmental officials questioned Chemours, inspected the facility and then issued the citation.