Press Releases

Community Groups Continue Fight for Polluter Chemours to Fund Testing on the Health Effects of PFAS in Appeal of EPA Ruling

Oral Argument before Fourth Circuit Challenges EPA Failure to Require Chemours to Address the Health Impacts of PFAS Contamination on Suffering Communities

Contact: Emily DiFrisco,

Richmond, VA (January 23, 2024) -Today, North Carolina community groups, the Center for Environmental Health, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Cape Fear, and Toxic Free NC appeared before the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, VA to urge it to reverse the district court’s dismissal of their case seeking to compel EPA to require Chemours to conduct comprehensive health testing on PFAS released into the NC environment from the Fayetteville Works chemical facility.

The community groups sued EPA in 2021 for its failure to use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to hold Chemours accountable for determining the health impacts of 40 years of PFAS contamination of drinking water, air, fish and wildlife, and locally grown produce in the Cape Fear River basin.

Often called “forever chemicals,” PFAS have raised significant concern in the U.S. and globally because of their persistence in our bodies and the environment, and their known ability to cause cancer, harm to reproduction and development and other chronic and deadly illnesses. The Cape Fear River in Eastern North Carolina – a source of drinking water for 500,000 people – has experienced some of the worst PFAS contamination in the U.S. as a result of four decades of pollution by Chemours and its predecessor DuPont. Citizens have numerous PFAS produced by Chemours in their blood.

Trump appointed District Judge Richard E. Meyers II upheld EPA’s claim that it was “granting” the group’s petition even though in reality the EPA only agreed to require three percent of the health studies requested by the plaintiffs. The EPA rejected requiring that Chemours fund a large scale human epidemiological study of exposed communities; health studies on Chemours-specific PFAS found in residents’ blood; and, testing on mixtures of PFAS found in the local tap water and wells.

The plaintiffs believe these studies would shed light on whether the PFAS to which communities have been exposed cause cancer, birth defects, damage to the liver and immune system, as well as other harmful effects. They also believe access to this information is foundational to every resident’s basic human rights. Without this crucial health information, exposed residents remain in the dark on how to seek preventative medical treatments for existing exposures or access medical monitoring.

Researchers found in 2017 that Chemours had been releasing GenX and several other PFAS into the Cape Fear River for four decades. Scientific experts agree residents in NC experienced continual and chronic exposures from contaminated drinking water, air and locally-grown food. Chemours has yet to complete limited court-ordered toxicity studies from a 2019 consent order between the company, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Cape Fear River Watch. Additionally, at the request of Clean Cape Fear, the United Nations is investigating human rights violations within the region associated with Chemours’ Fayetteville Works Facility, including the lack of testing to inform community members of the impacts of chemical exposures from Chemours operations.

Bob Sussman, counsel for the community groups who argued before the court, said that “This is a critically important case that addresses EPA’s obligation to respond to communities that need scientific data to protect their citizens from PFAS exposure and the responsibility of Chemours for the health consequences of forty years of polluting drinking water used by 500,000 people in Southeastern North Carolina.”

“We need these health studies to help protect the many North Carolinians living on the frontlines of PFAS pollution and exposure,” said Kendall Wimberley, Policy Advocate with Toxic Free North Carolina. “We will continue to insist that the EPA act to protect our communities’ health and hold Chemours accountable for this decades-long pollution.”

“There are children in our community burying their parents,” said Emily Donovan, co-founder of Clean Cape Fear. “We deserve to know if exposures from Chemours’ PFAS caused these untimely deaths and how to provide preventative care and medical monitoring moving forward.”

“EPA is derelict in its duty to protect human health and the environment and while we don’t want to spend our limited resources fighting them in court – they continue to use taxpayer dollars to fight environmental and community groups in support of the multi-trillion-dollar polluting industry; we need to hold them accountable and we need these health studies,” said Dana Sargent, executive director of Cape Fear River Watch.