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Posted on: November 3, 2021

CFPUA applauds State’s actions to hold Chemours accountable

Bend in Cape Fear River

CFPUA applauds the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) for actions announced Wednesday to hold Chemours responsible for its contamination of groundwater in New Hanover County and protect residents who may be affected.

NCDEQ announced that “Chemours is responsible for contamination of groundwater monitoring wells and water supply wells in New Hanover County and potentially Pender, Columbus, and Brunswick counties. Chemours is required to expand the off-site assessment required under the 2019 Consent Order to determine the extent of the contamination. Chemours must also conduct sampling of private drinking water wells to identify residents who may be eligible for replacement drinking water supplies. Chemours must submit plans to DEQ for approval.”

CFPUA has been working with NCDEQ to investigate PFAS in New Hanover County groundwater since 2017, when Chemours’ PFAS was first detected in a CFPUA well. Since then, NCDEQ and CFPUA have expanded monitoring and detected PFAS in a number of groundwater wells. The majority of PFAS detected in CFPUA’s monitoring are compounds tied to Chemours’ Fayetteville Works operations.

A map of well locations is here and a list of summary test results of CFPUA’s wells are here, here, here, and here.

“The announcement by [DEQ] Secretary [Elizabeth S.] Biser is welcome news for our community,” said Kenneth Waldroup, CFPUA Executive Director. “The PFAS in our community’s groundwater is there because Chemours and its predecessor DuPont released it into the Cape Fear River and the air over multiple decades of profitable operations upriver from our community. As a result of Wednesday’s announcement, Chemours can no longer ignore its responsibilities to the residents of New Hanover County.”

Below are answers to some questions specific to CFPUA’s groundwater monitoring and its systems:

CFPUA provides my drinking water. Does the PFAS in the groundwater affect me?

CFPUA has three water systems, two of which are sourced from groundwater wells. The largest of the groundwater systems is the Richardson System, which serves customers in Porters Neck, Ogden, and parts of northern New Hanover County and whose well water is treated at the Richardson Water Treatment Plant prior to distribution to customers. The Richardson Plant includes low-pressure reverse osmosis, which is very effective at treating for PFAS. CFPUA’s Monterey Heights System is a small system of five groundwater wells, from which drinking water is distributed to CFPUA customers in the Monkey Junction area. CFPUA’s most recent round of monitoring in October 2021 detected 20.7 ppt of total PFAS – about half of it Chemours’ PFAS – in a Monterey Heights well in Halyburton Park. Very low levels of total PFAS (4.5 ppt and 0.21 ppt) were detected in two other wells, but it is unclear whether these results are significant, given the very low levels, potential for sample contamination, and margin of error for PFAS analysis. Affected wells in CFPUA’s Sweeney System, which sources water from the Cape Fear River, are emergency wells. The two wells with the highest levels of PFAS – Sea Spray and Sea Pines – have been taken offline. Outside of emergencies, water from the other affected wells enters the distribution system only during maintenance conducted for short periods once per month. A map of well locations is here and a list of summary test results of CFPUA’s wells are here, here, here, and here.

Is there a place to get free, treated drinking water?

Residents whose drinking water comes from a private well have the option to obtain treated drinking water by bringing fillable containers to the free water station near the tennis courts at Ogden Park (615 Ogden Park Drive) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. This water has been treated at CFPUA’s Richardson Water Treatment Plant, which includes low-pressure reverse osmosis treatment and is highly effective at treating for PFAS.