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NC DEQ issues permit to keep contaminants out of the Cape Fear River and reduce downstream impacts

RALEIGH – The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued a permit for a water treatment system at the Chemours Fayetteville Works site to remove PFAS from a contaminated stream that currently flows into the Cape Fear River. To reduce impacts on downstream communities, the system is required to remove at least 99% of PFAS from the stream. According to the 2019 Consent Order between DEQ, Cape Fear River Watch and Chemours, the treatment system must be operational by September 30, 2020.

This permit does not apply to process wastewater, which Chemours is prohibited from discharging and has been prohibited from discharging since 2017. The treatment system is designed to remove PFAS from the stream referred to as Old Outfall 002 that carries PFAS from residual contamination at the site, including groundwater that flows from under the facility and through contaminated soil, into the Cape Fear River.

The permit requires testing of the influent and effluent to verify at least 99% percent removal efficiency, in addition to specific discharge limits. Based on public input, the final permit was adjusted to clarify that filter backwash from the treatment system must be collected and treated before discharge. Additional information on the permit is provided in the response to comments document posted with the final permit and fact sheet here.

“The treatment system will immediately reduce the amount of PFAS contamination reaching downstream communities,” said Assistant Secretary for the Environment Sheila Holman. “When combined with the measures required in the proposed Addendum to the Consent Order, communities along the Cape Fear River will continue to see additional PFAS reductions at their water intakes as each step is implemented in the months ahead.”

Since 2017, DEQ actions and the Consent Order have stopped the discharge of process wastewater to the Cape Fear River, identified and reduced air emissions by more than 99% and initiated groundwater remediation efforts. This treatment system permit is one of several measures in the Consent Order and proposed Addendum to address residual contamination and reduce PFAS pollution impacts to the Cape Fear River and downstream communities on an expedited basis. For instance, the proposed Addendum requires Chemours to install treatment systems to treat contaminated water flowing from under the facility through four surface water bodies, sometimes called “Seeps,” to the Cape Fear River. The schedule in the proposed Addendum requires installation of the first treatment system by November 16, 2020 and installation of the final treatment system by April 5, 2021.

Documents related to the Consent Order, including the proposed addendum are available online at:

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