Groups Support Genx Health Advisory By Moving To Intervene In Chemours Case Against EPA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
COMMUNITY & ADVOCACY GROUPS SUPPORT GENX HEALTH ADVISORY BY MOVING TO INTERVENE IN CHEMOURS CASE AGAINST EPA
WILMINGTON, NC (August 12, 2022) – A coalition of community, public health, and environmental justice groups and Southeastern North Carolina residents has moved to intervene in a legal challenge by chemical manufacturer Chemours to the drinking water health advisory recently issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for GenX chemicals. Produced at the Chemours plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina, GenX chemicals are harmful members of the PFAS class of toxic “forever chemicals” that have for four decades been polluting the Cape Fear River, a source of drinking water for nearly 500,000 residents. Backed by extensive peer-reviewed science, the advisory identifies a GenX level of 10 parts per trillion (ppt) in drinking water to protect communities from the serious health effects of GenX exposure.
The coalition members are Center for Environmental Health, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Cape Fear, Democracy Green, North Carolina Black Alliance, Toxic Free North Carolina, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and five residents, Lacey Brown, Kyle Horton, Harper Peterson, Debra Stewart and Mike Watters.
The following are statements from groups filing the motion to intervene:
“Chemours illegally released GenX into our drinking water supply. They put my family, friends, neighbors and community at risk for decades. Our children deserve going to school feeling their water is safe to drink.” – Emily Donovan, Co-Founder, Clean Cape Fear
“In fighting this health advisory after their industry’s own science proved these chemicals toxic 50 years ago – and while pumping out a slick PR campaign to convince the community they poisoned that they’re ‘good neighbors’ who care – Chemours has once again proven the only thing they care about is their bottom line.” – Dana Sargent, Executive Director, Cape Fear River Watch
“Black and Brown communities are already suffering from the crushing burden of cumulative impact on their respective communities, in addition to having to bear the impact of ingesting these forever chemicals.” – Jovita Lee, Program Director, North Carolina Black Alliance
“The ‘Forever Chemical’ PFAS will forever impact our communities and facilitate health disparities for decades. The CDC has found PFAS in the blood of 99% of Americans.” – Sanja Whittington, Democracy Green
“With its announcement of new health advisory levels, EPA has acknowledged that “forever chemicals” are harmful even at low concentrations. North Carolina deserves environmental justice and accountability for polluters.” – Alexis Luckey, Toxic Free NC
“EPA conducted a rigorous, multi-year process to assess the health effects of GenX and its findings were supported by two panels of independent experts. Chemours had every opportunity to weigh in but did not carry the day. Now, it is filing a last-ditch lawsuit to block the advisory at the same time that the State of North Carolina is working to deliver stronger drinking water protections to residents suffering from PFAS contamination of their water supplies. This reckless effort to deny at-risk communities the protection they urgently need should be rejected.” – Bob Sussman, Counsel for North Carolina Groups and Individuals and Former EPA Official
“We are filing this motion to intervene in the Chemours case because justice demands that we protect the interests of front-line communities, not the chemical industry. EPA’s thorough scientific findings demonstrate that GenX and other PFAS harm human health. The EPA is serving the public by providing communities and state and local governments with the best information for public health protection.” – Kathryn Alcantar, CEH
“Chemours is responsible for turning North Carolina into ground zero for GenX contamination. We will not stand by idly as the company attempts to dispute the sound science detailing the detrimental risks associated with ingesting these dangerous chemicals. Alongside our partners who have been fighting to eliminate PFAS for years, we will continue to advocate for stronger PFAS and GenX regulations and protect drinking water for millions of Americans.” – Erik D. Olson, Senior Strategic Director, Health and Food, NRDC
PFAS, which include PFOA, PFOS and GenX, are a large class of toxic “forever chemicals” that are highly mobile and do not readily break down in the environment, resulting in widespread contamination. PFAS have been linked to health problems including cancers, liver and kidney damage, weakened immune systems, and developmental problems.
GenX chemicals are among hundreds of PFAS that DuPont and its spinoff Chemours have been discharging into the Cape Fear River beginning in the 1970s, causing massive contamination of drinking water, groundwater, air and locally-produced foods. Exposure to GenX in municipal drinking water and private wells has exceeded the 10 ppt level in the EPA health advisory and thousands of residents have consumed PFAS including GenX at levels much higher than 10 ppt, creating widespread concern about harms to their health.
The GenX health advisory builds on a comprehensive multi-year assessment of GenX toxicity that EPA scientists completed in the fall of 2021. The assessment was reviewed and endorsed by two panels of independent scientists.
The advisory is not enforceable by EPA and provides information that drinking water suppliers, states and local governments can consider in protecting their drinking water. The State of North Carolina has announced that it is strongly supportive of the advisory and is already using the scientific advice provided by it in the state’s efforts to reduce GenX contamination in the impacted areas of the State.
On July 13, 2022, Chemours filed a Petition for Review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, challenging the GenX health advisory. Before the coalition can participate in the case, the court must rule on their pending motion to intervene.
- The Big Reveal: Hundreds of Health Studies on Next Gen PFAS (July ‘22)
- EPA Adopts Sharply-Reduced Health Advisories for Key PFAS Chemicals in Drinking Water (June ‘22)
- The Scientific Basis for Managing PFAS as a Chemical Class (June ‘20)
Clean Cape Fear is an alliance of established advocacy groups, community leaders, educators, and professionals working together to restore and protect our water quality, as well as spotlight deficiencies in governmental regulations that adversely impact our right to clean water. Follow them on Twitter @CleanCapeFear.
Cape Fear River Watch is working to protect and improve the water quality of the Cape Fear River Basin for all people through education, advocacy and action, with a proven track record of success. Follow them on Twitter @CapeFearRiver.
The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is a 26-year-old organization leading the nationwide effort to protect people from toxic chemicals by working with communities, consumers, workers, government, and the private sector to demand and support business practices that are safer for public health and the environment. Learn more at ceh.org or on Twitter at @CenterEnvHealth.
North Carolina Black Alliance is working toward state-level systemic change by strengthening the network of elected officials representing communities of color throughout the state and collaborating with a progressive, grassroots networks on intersecting issues. Follow them on Twitter @NCBlackAlliance.
Democracy Green is a movement to connect frontline communities with immediate rapid response, rapid relief, mutual aid and the building of long-term political power in the wake of disasters, focusing on the reformation of our democracy through the four Justices: environmental & climate, land & food, economic and political. Follow them on Facebook @DemocracyGreen.
Toxic Free North Carolina is engaging the community in initiatives that advance environmental health and justice by advocating for safe alternatives to harmful pesticides and chemicals. Their vision is a toxic-free North Carolina that is part of a just and equitable global community where human and environmental health are valued, respected, and enjoyed by all. Follow them on Twitter @ToxicFreeNC.
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.