This afternoon, CFPUA is filing a complaint in federal district court, Eastern District of North Carolina, against Chemours and Dupont.
The federal complaint asserts CFPUA’s common law causes of action, including: nuisance, negligence, trespass, harm to riparian rights, failure to warn and negligent manufacture. It alleges that the conduct of Chemours and Dupont was “willful and wanton”, meaning that it was done with a reckless regard for the rights and safety of others, which provides a basis for punitive damages.
Upon the discovery of GenX in the treated water from Sweeney Water Treatment Plant, CFPUA began searching for a method to test for the presence of GenX in biosolids. Biosolids are highly treated by-products of the wastewater treatment process that must be disposed of according to rules set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Biosolids may be disposed of in three different ways: incineration, surface disposal (in a landfill for example) or through land application. CFPUA employs the land application method—applying biosolids to land in order to condition soils or fertilize crops. This standard method is used by a majority of utilities in the State of North Carolina. CFPUA works with the company Synagro to transport biosolids produced at the plant to permitted sites in surrounding counties, where it is applied to land for crops not produced for human consumption.
In mid-September, researchers at UNCW informed CFPUA staff that they had designed a method to test for GenX in biosolids, and CFPUA sent samples to them on September 19. Late last week, CFPUA learned that GenX was present in at least one of the samples we sent to UNCW. Due to these preliminary results, CFPUA will now send additional samples to a private lab that will quantify those levels.
On September 15, CFPUA contacted staff at the Residuals Management division of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ)—the organization that approves our permit to land apply biosolids. DEQ informed CFPUA staff that we are approved to continue with our current method of disposal. We will continue to communicate and work with our regulatory agencies as new results come in.