Cape Fear Public Utility Authority continues to work with state regulators to determine the extent of effects on the local community from decades of PFAS compound releases by Chemours and DuPont.
CFPUA’s efforts include testing wells near our Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) well, which previously received finished drinking water from the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant. Results of that sampling, which show varying levels of PFAS compounds, are being released this week in spreadsheet and map form.
CFPUA’s ASR well was designed to store finished drinking water from the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant in the Upper PeeDee Aquifer. During periods of high demand, that water could have supplemented CFPUA’s normal water supply.
In 2017, CFPUA suspended a pilot program to inject water into the ASR after GenX from Chemours was detected in water from the well.
Subsequently, CFPUA pumped about 50 million gallons of water from the ASR, a measure that helped reduce GenX concentrations below the health advisory of 140 parts per trillion (ppt) for GenX in drinking water established by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2018, the North Carolina General Assembly allocated $450,000 to CFPUA for work related to addressing PFAS compounds in the ASR.
As part of that project, CFPUA in late January sampled water from the ASR to test for levels of more than three dozen PFAS compounds. At the same time, CFPUA paid to sample and test water from eight other nearby wells. Analytical results are being released today.
No PFAS compounds were detected in Monitoring Well 10, between Wrightsville Avenue and Bradley Creek west of Military Cutoff Road. Of the remaining eight wells, GenX concentrations ranged from 1.03 ppt to 58.3 ppt. Totals for all PFAS compounds detected in each of those eight ranged from 7.15 ppt to 1,981.5 ppt.
The compounds contributing the overwhelming majority to those total concentrations have been found only downstream of Chemours’ Fayetteville Works plant.
These same compounds are referenced as “Attachment C” in a proposed consent order that would settle pending claims against Chemours by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and Cape Fear River Watch.
“These analytical results are the latest in a growing list of issues that ultimately began with the actions of Chemours and DuPont,” CFPUA Executive Director Jim Flechtner said. “CFPUA believes the companies should shoulder the entire burden to quantify and address fallout from their actions rather than leaving local residents and state taxpayers to pay the costs to deal with it. So far, neither Chemours nor DuPont has stepped up. That’s why we have filed a federal lawsuit to recover damages and costs we and our ratepayers have and will incur.”
Meanwhile, in addition to water monitoring, CFPUA is conducting pilot tests on technology that could be used to treat groundwater affected by PFAS compounds.
Begun in January, those tests are using granular activated carbon (GAC) and ion exchange (IX) media, separately and in combination, to remove PFAS from water pumped from the ASR well.
The results will guide decisions on potential technology to ensure safe drinking water for CFPUA customers and to help clean water in the PeeDee Aquifer.
They also will be shared so others may benefit from the research and will be included in a final report to state legislators later this year.