12/01/2022
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RALEIGH- An agreement signed Monday ends litigation without changing the discharge permit issued to Chemours for the treatment of contaminated groundwater to significantly reduce PFAS entering the Cape Fear River, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality announced.

DEQ and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) reached an agreement with Chemours to end the litigation over the permit issued by DEQ on Sept. 15. Last month, Chemours filed a petition to challenge the permit. CFPUA intervened to support the permit.

Monday’s agreement does not change the final permit conditions and includes measures by which Chemours will proceed toward compliance with the final PFAS permit limits. Those limits take effect six months after discharge from the treatment system begins. In the agreement, Chemours agrees to take specific steps and provide monthly reports on its progress during the six-month optimization period. Chemours also agrees to dismiss its petition for a contested case hearing on the permit.

Chemours, in a statement released Tuesday morning said it “is pleased to have reached an agreement with NCDEQ regarding our NPDES 004 permit so that we can proceed with completing the barrier wall construction and begin operation of the barrier wall’s associated groundwater extraction wells and treatment system.

“As all parties to the agreement recognized, this work is in the public interest to reduce remaining legacy PFAS loading to the Cape Fear River. At the same time, the agreement recognizes Chemours’ position that compliance with the final limits cannot be assured until after the system is constructed and becomes operational.

“In the six-month period after startup of the system, Chemours will optimize the installed treatment system and make modifications, as feasible, to further reduce PFAS discharges and meet the permit requirement. By no later than seven months after system startup, Chemours will submit an updated operation and maintenance plan to DEQ incorporating the optimization procedures and technological improvements identified during the optimization period.

“This agreement will not affect Chemours’ Consent Order or Addendum obligations.”

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the treatment system is part of the larger barrier wall remediation project to substantially reduce PFAS entering the Cape Fear River and impacting downstream communities. Currently, contaminated groundwater from the facility site flows untreated directly into the Cape Fear River. This project is designed to reduce the largest ongoing source of PFAS at the Chemours facility that contaminates the river and reaches downstream water intakes. The project must be operational by March 15, 2023, under the terms of the Consent Order.

DEQ said it expects Chemours to take necessary actions to comply with the permit conditions and the Consent Order and meet its obligations to clean up the PFAS contamination impacting thousands of residents in at least eight counties and provide them with alternate water.

The agreement is available online by clicking here.

Chemours Statement on NPDES Permit

Chemours is pleased to have reached an agreement with NCDEQ regarding our NPDES 004 permit so that we can proceed with completing the barrier wall construction and begin operation of the barrier wall’s associated groundwater extraction wells and treatment system. As all parties to the agreement recognized, this work is in the public interest to reduce remaining legacy PFAS loading to the Cape Fear River. At the same time, the agreement recognizes Chemours’ position that compliance with the final limits cannot be assured until after the system is constructed and becomes operational. In the six-month period after startup of the system, Chemours will optimize the installed treatment system and make modifications, as feasible, to further reduce PFAS discharges and meet the permit requirement. By no later than seven months after system startup, Chemours will submit an updated operation and maintenance plan to DEQ incorporating the optimization procedures and technological improvements identified during the optimization period. This agreement will not affect Chemours’ Consent Order or Addendum obligations.