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Posted on: June 2, 2022

CFPUA Executive Director testifies at hearing for “Polluters Pay” bill

Bend in Cape Fear River

Kenneth Waldroup, CFPUA Executive Director, testified Thursday, June 2, in favor of a bill filed in the State House empowering the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) to order PFAS manufacturers that contaminate public water supplies to fund treatment plant upgrades and other costs associated with their PFAS pollution.

House Bill 1095 – whose primary sponsors include local state Reps. Ted Davis, Charles Miller, and Frank Iler – clarifies how State regulators would set maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFAS, which would be no more than 10 parts per trillion (ppt) for any single PFAS compound or 70 ppt for the sum of all PFAS. A PFAS manufacturer whose releases result in concentrations exceeding such MCLs in public water supplies could be ordered by NCDEQ to pay the costs incurred to “remove, correct, or abate” the contamination, including the construction and operation of treatment upgrades. A public water system that receives restitution from a PFAS manufacturer would be required to pass along that benefit to customers through a reduction in future rates, fees, and charges.

Testifying before the N.C. House Judiciary 1 Committee, Mr. Waldroup said: “We encourage you to look at this bill, which provides for the first time in North Carolina tools to establish maximum contaminant limits in safe drinking water. That’s very important, because we are not going to get that for Chemours-specific PFAS from EPA. It’s simply not on their radar; they have legacy issues to deal with. You will give your Department (DEQ) and, just as importantly, the resources to the (North Carolina) Collaboratory for all of their fantastic academic resources, the opportunity to establish what is safe.”

CFPUA and its customers are paying $43 million to build new granular activated carbon filters at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant to treat PFAS contamination resulting from decades of PFAS releases into the Cape Fear River by Chemours and DuPont. The new filters will come online later this year, providing effective treatment for Chemours’ PFAS, reducing GenX to levels at or near non-detection. Operating costs for the new filters are estimated to be about $3.7 million in fiscal year 2022 (July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023) and more than $5 million in subsequent years. Costs to address Chemours’ PFAS pollution account for about 70 percent of upcoming increases in CFPUA charges that will add $5.39 to the average customer’s monthly bill, beginning with services delivered July 1.

Thursday’s hearing was for discussion only, and no vote on the bill was taken. Adoption will require approval in the N.C. House and Senate and the signature of Gov. Roy Cooper.

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Photo courtesy Emily Donovan, Clean Cape Fear.

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