A Wilmington StarNews investigation
▸ Chemours' contamination of the Cape Fear River first became widely known in early June, when the StarNews reported on a 2016 study conducted by researchers from several North Carolina universities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. The study showed a chemical known as GenX was one of seven compounds present in the Cape Fear River and could not be filtered out of finished drinking water by utilities. Shortly after, during a meeting with local officials, Chemours employees said the GenX contaminating the Cape Fear was not a result of the product's manufacturing process taking place at the Fayetteville Works facility, but rather was created as the byproduct of a totally separate process that has taken place in cycles since 1980.
▸ Throughout the story, questions have lingered about the human health effects of GenX -- particularly considering it replaced C8, a proven threat to human health. There have been very few human health studies, and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services initially set a health goal of 71,000 parts per trillion, later lowering it to 140 parts per trillion. The EPA has not set a health standard for GenX and does not appear poised to in the foreseeable future.
▸ The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has continued its investigation of Chemours' activity and discharges at the Fayetteville Works site, slapping the company with a notice of violation for groundwater contamination. Chemours and the state also reached an agreement on a partial consent order, where the company agreed to continue preventing the discharge of GenX and other chemicals while also eventually providing DEQ with access to confidential business information.
▸ But the agreement between Chemours and state regulators hasn't stopped a flurry of entities, including CFPUA, and private individuals from filing lawsuits, claiming Chemours and DuPont -- from which Chemours was spun off in 2015 -- knew for years they were violating a host of environmental laws with their toxic discharges.