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By Erin Smith

For residents of Parkersburg, West Virginia, the news of the dumping of GenX and Nafion chemicals into the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, brought back  memories of a similar incident which resulted in a lawsuit against DuPont and Chemours.

Chemours Fayetteville Works facility in North Carolina is currently under investigation by state officials after the chemical GenX was found in the Cape Fear River and in the water system of the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority in a study conducted in 2013-14. The study was released only recently in the Environmental Letters

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has threatened to suspend Chemours’ permit to discharge wastewater into the Cape Fear River if they do not immediately stop discharging water tainted with C8 and GenX.  A partial consent order was issued in Bladen County Superior Court on Friday, September 8, by Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser.

On the same day, Chemours’ attorneys sent a letter to the Department of Environmental Quality arguing they do not have the authority to order the company to stop discharging Nafion into the Cape Fear River. Chemours reiterates the company’s position Nafion was only detected in the river by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after it conducted water sampling tests while attempting to learn about the levels of GenX in the river. Read the letter in its entirety here.

If Chemours’ discharge permit is revoked, it would essentially mean the plant would be shut down. It could also potentially mean the adjacent plants of DuPont Fayetteville Works and Kuraray would also be idled as they also discharge their wastewater under the Chemours permit. Bladen County Commissioner Chairman Charles Ray Peterson said in an earlier interview with BladenOnline.com the Bladen County Board of Commissioners would fight any actions by the state which would close the plant unless the state can show proof the plant has released chemicals affecting public health and safety.

Neither Nafion nor GenX are regulated by the EPA and little is known about their long term impact on human health. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services only recently set a standard for GenX of 140 parts per trillion which was based off a European study.

In the case of residents of Parkersburg, West Virginia, the recent GenX case could be a case of deja vu. DuPont and Chemours settled a lawsuit in February for $671 million over exposure to the chemical C8. In the case in Parkersburg, a lawsuit filed against the DuPont company revealed documents which showed DuPont scientists knew what the potential effects of exposure to the chemical C8 on human health were as far back as the 1950s and 1960s. The information came to light when a farmer sued DuPont over cattle he claimed were contaminated by the chemical C8 which was being released by the DuPont Washington Works facility.

The chemical C8 and later the newer chemical GenX are used in the manufacturing process for Teflon. According to court documents in a separate lawsuit filed by Carla Bartlett, it was learned DuPont scientists knew as early as the 1960s that C8 builds up in the body and is not released from the body but instead continues to build up over time. A number of documents were introduced into court records in both cases which demonstrate C8 has been linked to such illnesses as cancer, liver disease, developmental problems, and thyroid disease. Bartlett was awarded a $1.6 million settlement in her case in January 2016. A DuPont spokesman said they plan to appeal the verdict.

In the most recent lawsuit, Chemours agreed to pay $335.35 million of the $671 million settlement. DuPont will pay the remainder.

NC DEQ Reports: https://deq.nc.gov/news/hot-topics/genx-investigation

To read more about the Parkersburg, West Virginia case click here: http://www.newsandsentinel. com/news/local-news/2017/02/ dupont-reaches-c8-settlement- agreement-for-670m/

To read more about the case of Carla M. Bartlett, click here: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/10/07/Dupont-ordered-to-pay-damages.html

Officials answer questions about GenX well water testing

 

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