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:

The DEQ has demanded payment of $127,000.00 in stipulated penalties based on inadequate design of the treatment system at Old Outfall 002 that became operational on Sept. 30. Because of that faulty design, the treatment system failed to consistently meet the requirements of the consent order. The company subsequently had to execute a series of design changes..

The Division of Water Resources issued a Civil Penalty Assessment totaling $38,437.16 for violations of the EPA’s pollution permit for the treatment system at Old Outfall 002. Problems include exceeding an effluent limit, failure to meet flow requirements, and improper operation and maintenance.

The Division of Waste Management issued an Administrative Penalty of $28,492.00 for improper disposal of excavated soil during the construction of the treatment system at Old Outfall 002. Chemours dumped the soil, which contained PFAS, in a nearby unlined landfill.

The Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources Civil Penalty Assessment of $5,000 for land-disturbance and stormwater violations related to the construction and installation of the “Seep C” treatment system.

While I have your attention, how about a history lesson that should have had NC regulators watching this company like a hawk:

More than 30 years ago DuPont became aware that C8 was in drinking water in Ohio and West Virginia at dangerous levels, yet said nothing to the government or public. In fact, it increased its production, and continued to discharge the chemical in a manner to enter the Ohio River and air.

There were six water districts in West Virginia and Ohio that became contaminated by C8. In Ohio, they included the Little Hocking Water Association; the City of Belpre Tuppers Plains – Chester Water District; and the Village of Pomeroy. In West Virginia, they included the Lubeck Public Service District, and the Mason County Public Service District. Additionally, numerous private water wells located within a certain distance of the six water districts were contaminated.

DuPont and its spinoff company Chemours will pay $670 million to settle a decades-old battle over C8, a chemical it used to make Teflon, and which has been linked to a host of health problems including cancer.

A federal jury has returned a $2 million verdict against DuPont in the third of 3,500 cases charging that DuPont knowingly contaminated drinking water at its facility near Parkersburg. The verdict included damages from DuPont's negligence and a finding that the company’s conduct was malicious. The malicious ruling allows the jury to consider a possible punitive damages verdict in addition to the compensatory damages.

C8 was the precursor to GenX, which has contaminated water from Fayetteville all the way to Wilmington. NC DENR (now DEQ) should have been vigorously testing water near and downstream from that site from the very beginning, as well as identifying the dangers of the "new" chemical compound developed by Chemours to replace C8.