NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – Today the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that they have determined that Chemours is responsible for contamination of groundwater monitoring wells and water supply wells in New Hanover County, and potentially other downstream counties affected by PFAS contamination in the Cape Fear River. DEQ is requiring Chemours to submit plans for DEQ approval within 90 days to begin conducting a comprehensive assessment of groundwater contamination in New Hanover County, as an expansion of its off-site assessment required under the 2019 Consent Order.
This means that, after a plan is approved by DEQ, Chemours would begin sampling private water wells in New Hanover County to identify residents who may be eligible for replacement drinking water supplies. This effort will be coordinated by Chemours and through DEQ. View DEQ’s news release with more information here.
“I want to thank DEQ and Secretary Biser for taking these steps to require action from Chemours so they take responsibility for the PFAS contamination they have caused in our community,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “It is important for our residents to be provided with the same protections as those who are close to the Chemours plant, and that means testing and monitoring the groundwater wells in our county and providing bottled water and then a permanent filtration or connection to a public water supply if elevated PFAS are detected. New Hanover County has advocated to be included in the Consent Order, and today’s actions are a positive step towards that. We will continue to do all we can to support DEQ’s efforts and ensure our residents have access to safe drinking water.”
In February 2019, Chemours entered into a Consent Order with the State that includes provisions requiring Chemours to provide private well owners affected by its PFAS with drinking water solutions, including delivery of water to a residence, connection to public water systems when feasible, and/or the installation of home-based reverse osmosis systems to filter out PFAS and other compounds. Before today, this provision has only been applied to residents near Chemours’ plant, in Bladen, Cumberland, and Robeson County. With today’s announcement, after a plan is approved by DEQ within 90 days, Chemours will be required to provide similar services to affected New Hanover County residents.
The only way to be certain that a well is affected by PFAS is through specialized analytical testing, which is what DEQ is requiring of Chemours. The potential for PFAS contamination in a particular well may depend on several factors, not just proximity to a well where PFAS has been previously detected. Other factors may include well depth and the aquifer from which a well is withdrawing water.
According to NCDHHS, the potential for health effects from PFAS in humans is still being studied and researchers are working to better understand how exposure to PFAS might affect people’s health—especially how exposure to PFAS in water and food may be harmful. View information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the health impacts from PFAS at EPA.gov.
Information and reports from DEQ on managing emerging compounds in water can be found at DEQ.NC.gov. In addition, DEQ will be hosting a digital public information session regarding PFAS/Gen X at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16. Information about the event can be found here.