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North Carolina Groups Oppose Chemours Attempt to Block EPA Scientific Findings on PFAS

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North Carolina Groups Oppose Chemours Attempt to Block EPA Scientific Findings Showing Health Risks from PFAS in Drinking Water 

Company seeks to delay reductions in drinking water contamination but offers no new science 

WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA – Today six public health and environmental groups committed to protecting at risk communities in Eastern North Carolina wrote a letter to the EPA to strongly oppose Chemours’ request to withdraw and correct EPA’s 2021 toxicity assessment for GenX.

The six groups are Cape Fear River Watch, Center for Environmental Health, Clean Cape Fear, Democracy Green, NC Black Alliance, and Toxic Free NC.

GenX is one of many Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) released by Chemours’ Fayetteville Works that have contaminated the surrounding community and the downstream Cape Fear River basin. Because of this contamination, over 500,000 residents in the basin consume drinking water containing GenX and other PFAS. GenX has been polluting the Cape Fear River for over four decades.

The EPA assessment concludes that GenX causes serious harmful effects on the liver, kidneys, immune system and development of offspring, and is associated with an increased risk of cancer. It sets a very low limit for daily exposure to GenX to protect against health risks to drinking water users.

Chemours’ March 18, 2022 request to withdraw and correct the assessment is a last-ditch attempt to delay action to protect exposed communities from unsafe drinking water.  As the company admits, its goal is to prevent EPA from issuing a drinking water health advisory, planned for later this spring, that would recommend substantial reductions in GenX levels in drinking water to prevent the health risks identified by the Agency.

In their letter, the six groups urged EPA to “reject this ploy to delay public health protection by denying [Chemours’] request and issuing the advisory as soon as possible.”  The letter emphasized that the EPA assessment was developed in a robust process with a full opportunity for public comment and its findings were upheld by two peer review panels. The groups underscored that the Chemours’ request “adds nothing new” and simply “seeks to rehash issues that have already been fully vetted and carefully considered by EPA and its peer reviewers.”

The letter noted that GenX levels detected in drinking water near and downstream of the Chemours plant and in personal drinking water wells result in exposure above the EPA safe level and many residents are now consuming GenX in amounts determined to be harmful by EPA.

Under a consent order between Chemours and the State of North Carolina, the company must provide permanent replacement drinking water supplies to any owner of a private well “contaminated by concentrations of GenX compounds in excess of . . . any applicable health advisory.” The State has put Chemours on notice of the need to take additional measures once the drinking water advisory is issued. Prompt issuance of the advisory will therefore provide immediate health benefits to North Carolina communities.

GenX is a shorthand for the Hexafluoropropylene Oxide (HFPO) Dimer Acid and its ammonium salt.

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