NC DEQ

Chemours hit with $200,000 in fines for continuing to discharge PFAS

Either do or do not; there is no try:

North Carolina environmental regulators have penalized Chemours nearly $200,000 for failing to meet terms of a consent order and violations related to the construction and installation of required measures to treat residual “forever chemicals” at the company’s Fayetteville Works plant.

In 2017, the Department of Environmental Quality ordered Chemours to stop discharging its wastewater into the river, but residual PFAS have continued to escape from the outfall and groundwater seeps on the company’s property.

It's long past time we reassess our approach to permitting discharges into our creeks & rivers. Somebody once asked me (a 12 year-old, no less) why we let chemical companies build their facilities right on the edge of our rivers, and I was forced to tell this child the truth: so they could more easily dispose of their wastewater. Coal plants need to be close to water resources because they use it for steam and for cooling purposes. But chemical plants? Nope. They don't have such needs. For decades they have used rivers as a convenient (and cheap) method for getting rid of their toxic wastes, and we have allowed them to do that. Shame on us. Here's a breakdown of the fines assessed:

Officials refuse to name company that discharged 1,4 Dioxane

Greensboro has some questions that need answering:

State regulators and Greensboro officials refuse to identify an industry they say accidentally released a large amount of a likely carcinogen into the Cape Fear River basin, temporarily fouling drinking water for Pittsboro, Fayetteville and perhaps other cities downstream. Greensboro officials and the state Department of Environmental Quality also won’t say how the release of 1,4 dioxane happened and how much of the chemical was discharged.

Both entities called the release “a mistake,” one that caused the level of 1,4 dioxane in Pittsboro’s drinking water to temporarily spike in August to more than 300 times the lifetime cancer risk level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Mistake" or not, withholding the name of the company is simply not acceptable. It shields them from exposure to the media, which in many cases do a better job at holding polluters accountable than regulatory agencies do. It also raises many questions about potential conflicts of interest, from campaign donations to government incentives, and many of those questions would simply disappear with a little sunlight shining on the scene. And this timeline is nothing short of infuriating:

Burrowing mole van der Vaart finally quits his self-appointed job at DEQ

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And complains about behavior he's guilty of himself:

The former secretary of the state Department of Environmental Quality has resigned from the state agency after being put on paid administrative leave nearly a month ago. Donald van der Vaart, who was first in command under the Republican administration of former Gov. Pat McCrory, sent a letter to his successor as secretary, Michael Regan, on Tuesday saying he would retire after 23 years.

“The state has traditionally found it difficult to recruit young people without the added specter of politicization of science and law,” van der Vaart said in closing his letter. “Sadly, that specter is now clearly visible.”

If you want to see a prime example of science being politicized, here's van der Vaart attacking Roy Cooper and promoting Pat McCrory when it was only rumored that Cooper was thinking of a Gubernatorial bid:

Sorry Not Sorry: Chemours "accidentally" spills more Genx into Cape Fear

Old (nasty) habits are apparently hard to break:

In a press release Thursday afternoon, officials with the state Department of Environmental Quality said preliminary data revealed a spike in the levels of GenX in untreated water near the chemical company's Fayetteville Works facility in Bladen County. After contacting the company, DEQ spokesman Jamie Kritzer said Chemours officials revealed that workers had spilled dimer acid fluoride during planned maintenance at the plant Oct. 6.

Dimer acid fluoride effectively breaks down in water into the equivalent of GenX, a poorly studied and unregulated contaminant in a family of chemicals linked to cancer and other negative health effects. Kritzer said it's unclear how much of the chemical leaked or how long it spilled into the Cape Fear River.

As our Riverkeepers and their cadre of volunteer water watchers will tell you, such "accidents" happen way too often to not be intentional. Whether it's polluting industries or municipal wastewater treatment plants, there are numerous cases of "Oops!" that occur every year. Because making it somebody else's problem is the easiest way to deal with chemicals and sewage. Until it starts costing you a lot of money, which is what needs to happen.

Is van der Vaart trying to take his incompetence to DC?

Birds of a feather destroy the environment together:

President-elect Donald Trump has named Myron Ebell to head up his transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The news was met with name-calling, even though Ebell agrees with the same position taken by a former top scientist with the Obama administration, Steve Koonin (formerly of Cal Tech) namely, that scientists simply do not know what fraction of observed global warming is due to manmade CO2 emissions.

Consequently, Ebell has expressed concern about EPA positions, including the Clean Power Plan. The EPA’s controversial power plan is based on an inadequate understanding of global warming and should not drive our middle class into energy poverty against congressional will.

Koonin worked for British Petroleum before his brief stint at the Department of Energy, and is widely considered as much of a nut-job as Myron Ebell. And van der Vaart's "what fraction" argument is merely the next tier for Climate Change deniers. They've given up on the idiotic "man doesn't cause this" position because it is patently indefensible, so now they demand a hyper-accurate, to-the-decimal-point percentage of how much carbon is anthropomorphic vs natural. Nevermind the fact that vulcanism is wildly erratic from year to year, so that percentage is naturally a moving target. Oh no, now you're bringing more science into it. Can't have that. Van der Vaart is an embarrassment, frankly, and we can't be shut of him soon enough.

Van der Vaart continues his political gamesmanship

Attacking the Federal government and Roy Cooper whenever he's given the opportunity:

The U.S. Supreme Court took the unprecedented step this year of halting the Obama administration’s attempt to take over the nation’s electricity system. The federal scheme, supported by North Carolina’s attorney general, would punish lower- and middle-class families by increasing energy bills more than $400 a year.

Erratic behavior behind DEQ's feud with EPA

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Necessary changes or intentionally confusing?

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality says it has tried to develop a wastewater permit for the closed Riverbend Steam Station, a first of its kind involving removal of coal ash, based on guidance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But it complains that the EPA has contradicted itself on provisions and dithered about approving the state’s plans.

“For well over a year, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has prevented the cleanup of coal ash ponds in North Carolina,” said Tom Reeder, assistant secretary for the environment at DEQ.

I'm sure many advocates are frustrated over these delays, but the activity in question, the "dewatering" of coal ash ponds, is a potential source for a great deal of permitted contamination of our water resources. Arriving at the least hazardous solution is imperative, lest the cure be worse than the sickness. All that said, it appears DEQ has been complicating the process with continual rewrites:

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