GenX is focus of EPA community engagement event in N.C.

U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., who has questioned former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt about the GenX contamination that has plagued his district near the Cape Fear River, spoke to attendees at the EPA’s fourth community engagement event in Fayetteville on Aug. 14.

“I want to thank the EPA for accepting my invitation to bring one of their community engagement events to Fayetteville so we can hear directly from the EPA and we can share our GenX concerns,” Hudson said. “I will continue to work with local, state and federal stakeholders to get the answers and scientific data we need to tackle GenX.”

Hudson notified Pruitt that Chemours, a Bladen County company, discharged GenX into the air and water near the Cape Fear River, and it was found in local drinking water sources. The EPA had issued a consent order in 2009 ordering Chemours to regulate its discharge of GenX, but the state took follow-up action against Chemours in June, ordering it to reduce air emissions around its Fayetteville plant after it charged Chemours with violating its consent agreement.

Kemp Burdette, the Cape Fear Riverkeeper, who advocates for environmental protection and improvement of the river, spoke at the community engagement event.

“Communities across North Carolina are extremely concerned about the impact of PFAS contamination on our health and our environment,” he said. “We expect the EPA to take action on this critical issue.”

Burdette said Chemours, which began using GenX after the chemical C8 was phased out, emitted 6,000 parts per trillion of GenX in the area’s drinking water, far above the state’s limit of 140 ppt.

“Now they’re no longer discharging it into the surface water, but they’re incinerating it and using it as a fracking additive,” he said. “But it’s been in private wells, ground water systems, in fish sediment and rainwater. It’s everywhere.”

Forty individuals spoke about their PFAS concerns at the engagement event, providing more information for the EPA to consider as it develops a PFAS Management Plan it says it will release later this year.

Similar statements were made at three previous engagement events, including the first one in Exeter on June 25 and 26.

While the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services initially focused on PFOA and PFOS contamination and established groundwater standards of 70 ppt for both, it has recently updated its research to identify GenX at the Saint-Gobain site in Merrimack where the other PFAS were found.

“We tested drinking water, groundwater and soil and initially did not see any results, but with the help of the EPA, we were given access to advanced technology and are getting a better understanding of next generation contamination,” said Clark Friese, assistant commissioner of the DES. “We identified GenX and additional next generation compounds in air and soil testing around the Saint-Gobain facility. It’s thousands of compounds and GenX was one of them. I’m not surprised we found it in the vicinity of the Saint-Gobain plant. It’s nowhere else yet, but that’s not to say we won’t find it elsewhere.”

DES does not regulate GenX or any of the next generation compounds, but may do so in the future.

“There are no state standards for GenX yet, but we have been given access to the technology to detect GenX and other next generation compounds in the environment,” Friese said. “We have set state standards for PFOA and PFOS and will be adding standards for PFHxS and PFNA and can add next generation compounds as the science becomes available. We’ve recently been given authority under H.B. 1101 and S.B. 309 to apply air emission standards that limit the impact of PFOA and PFOS and their precursor compounds on groundwater contamination. We’d like to force emission controls so there is no further impact to ground water.”