The EPA announced Thursday it has issued a Notice of Violation to Chemours for failing to comply, on multiple occasions, with federal law at the company’s plant in Fayetteville. According to EPA documents — some of them heavily redacted — obtained earlier today by Policy Watch, Chemours in Fayetteville failed to provide many key documents related to the import, processing, recycling/reclamation, and health and safety effects of GenX and other chemicals.
The EPA did not mention a financial penalty in the documents.
Chemours spokesperson Lisa Randall issued a statement about the EPA action, saying the company is aware of it and is “in the process of reviewing it to better understand the agency’s concerns. Once we fully understand the details of the notice, we will work with the agency on any additional steps that may be needed. It’s important to understand that the notice pertains to inspections done in 2017. We’ve already taken signifcant action to address PFAS emissions between 2017 and today.”
During a June 2017 inspection, EPA officials asked Chemours if the facility had imported any chemical substances in the last four years. According to EPA documents, “Chemours stated that all chemical import activities were controlled by corporate office. As a result Chemours did not provide any records on the import of substances associated with the facility.”
Nearly six months passed until Jan. 4, 2018, when Chemours disclosed to EPA Region 4, which covers the Southeast, that it imported GenX compounds. Three weeks later, the EPA requested Chemours provide dates the GenX compounds were recycled and the method; the origin and disposal sites of the waste; the amount released each day, and where any emissions occurred.
As Policy Watch reported last month, in mid-December 2018, the EPA filed a Temporary of Notice of Objection to further imports and exports of GenX compounds to the Netherlands. A Chemours spokesperson said at the time that the company had been importing and exporting the material for five years.
Chemours failed to provide the EPA with a “pre-manufacture notice,” which also covers imports, of certain new chemical compounds within the legally required 90 days before the production or importation began.
Chemours in Fayetteville transports GenX compounds to New Jersey and West Virginia, and exports them to the Netherlands, Japan, China and India.
A shipping manifest obtained by Policy Watch shows the Chemours plant in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, exports GenX compounds through a Belgian port, to the Port of Liverpool in England, and then onto Wilmington, NC. From there it is transported to Fayetteville.
EPA officials raised other questions during the 2017 inspection in Fayetteville. The agency asked about any documentation Chemours had detailing possible adverse health effects and reactions to the chemicals used at the plant. The EPA also asked for a list of health studies, as well as any known health and safety information.
“At the time of the inspection, Chemours indicated they had no such records and they would check with their corporate office in Delaware,” the EPA documents read. “No records were provided.”
Chemours did not submit required notifications for “significant new use” of certain chemicals. (The names of some chemicals were redacted because they are considered Confidential Business Information.)
The EPA also requires a GenX to be used in a closed loop, with no discharges to the environment. However, Chemours did release the compounds into the groundwater, surface water and air — and had been since 1980.
Under pressure from state regulators and environmental advocates, Chemours is investing $100 million in state-of-the-art emission control technology at our Fayetteville site to achieve 99% reduction in PFAS air and water emissions by the end of 2019.
A public hearing on the technology, known as a thermal oxidizer/scrubber, is scheduled for Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Bladen County Community College Auditorium, 7418 NC Hwy 41 West, in Dublin.