Environmental teams requested the EPA to drive Chemours to conduct well being research on 54 forms of “everlasting chemical compounds” that they are saying come from the chemical plant.
By Greg Barnes
The US Environmental Safety Company has rejected a request from six North Carolina environmental teams that will have pressured the chemical firm Chemours to fund well being research on 54 forms of “everlasting chemical compounds” launched from its Fayetteville Works plant.
The EPA mentioned in a January 7 response that the petitioners couldn’t show that the requested knowledge was mandatory.
The petition was filed on October 14 by the Heart for Environmental Well being, Cape Concern River Watch, Clear Cape Concern, NC Black Alliance, Democracy Inexperienced, and Poisonous Free NC. The group sought a rule of order underneath the Poisonous Substances Management Act requiring Chemours to fund and conduct well being and environmental testing of the 54 per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, generally generally known as PFAS, by a panel of unbiased scientists.
The group leaders had sturdy phrases after the EPA’s denial.
“I imagine the EPA is mendacity to North Carolinians and, by extension, the remainder of America,” Emily Donovan, co-founder of Clear Cape Concern, mentioned in an e mail. “If, because the EPA suggests, there’s already sufficient scientific knowledge to disclaim our request, the place are the ingesting water requirements for these 54 PFAS? Fish and Wildlife Consumption Warnings? Truth Sheets for Physicians and State Well being Departments?
“The info wanted to supply these important protections doesn’t exist. The EPA is aware of this and my kids are nonetheless uncovered to many of those PFAS. My pals and neighbors are sick. My husband virtually misplaced his sight resulting from a mind tumor and I’m bored with a authorities, funded with taxpayer dollars, refusing to do its job. “
Virtually 300,000 uncovered
Environmental teams say Chemours, and earlier than DuPont, are accountable for PFAS contamination within the Cape Concern River downstream from the Bladen County chemical plant and in additional than four,000 non-public wells surrounding it. Previous to 2015, DuPont owned and managed the Fayetteville Works facility, then the corporate spun off Chemours right into a separate entity.
Practically 300,000 individuals across the plant and dwelling downstream are believed to have been uncovered to elevated ranges of PFAS resulting from many years of unregulated PFAS discharges into the river and into the air. The substances have additionally been present in greens grown close to the plant and in fish, alligators, and different wildlife downstream.
Potential adversarial well being results of PFAS embrace liver harm, thyroid illness, decreased fertility, excessive ldl cholesterol, weight problems, hormonal and immune suppression, and cancers of the liver, kidneys, pancreas, testicles, and thyroid.
Chemours contends that the degrees of PFAS present in ingesting water drawn from the Cape Concern River and in water from non-public wells should not adequate to trigger hurt to individuals. Nevertheless, mounting proof means that even extraordinarily low ranges of sure forms of PFAS may cause adversarial well being results.
The teams that filed the 49-page petition need Chemours to pay for the 54 PFAS research so individuals can be taught in regards to the well being dangers and maybe find out how to mitigate them.
The motion would emulate research performed within the Mid-Ohio River Valley earlier this century that discovered that the general public studied had some degree of PFAS contamination of their blood.
“Docs in our area know we have been overexposed to PFAS, however they lack the steerage and assist on find out how to ship preventive well being care,” mentioned Donovan, who lives in Brunswick County. A examine final yr by the Nationwide Environmental Job Power discovered that water from a ingesting fountain at a Brunswick County elementary college contained the best degree of PFAS detected within the nation.
“There’s a knowledge hole inside our healthcare group relating to publicity to PFAS mixtures,” Donovan mentioned. “We should know all the chance elements.”
Chemours says the request fell quick
Chemours disagrees. Shortly after the EPA rejected the teams’ request, the corporate launched an announcement saying it was proud of the consequence. The assertion additionally touted Chemours’ efforts to considerably scale back Cape Concern River PFAS.
“The petition didn’t set up any of the elements required by TSCA to assist the proposed motion,” the corporate mentioned in an announcement. “A number of of the compounds cited within the petition haven’t any identified connection to Chemours’ operation at Fayetteville Works. Others are by-products and intermediates that happen in such small portions, ranges that proceed to say no, that it will be extremely troublesome, if not unimaginable, to fabricate the volumes required for testing. “
Following EPA’s determination, the petitioning teams pledged to proceed combating on behalf of at-risk communities towards PFAS contamination from Chemours.
“The denial of the EPA petition doesn’t deal with severe issues in regards to the well being results related to PFAS or the intensive contamination of the Cape Concern River Basin attributable to Chemours,” the teams mentioned in a joint assertion launched by the Heart. of Environmental Well being. As a substitute, it seeks to justify its refusal to demand proof with an recitation of its actions in PFAS usually, actions which were broadly criticized as ineffective and inappropriate.
Beneath (President) Donald Trump, defending the revenue margins of company polluters has repeatedly prevailed over public well being. The EPA’s refusal to require Chemours to fund assessments that ought to have been performed many years in the past is yet one more instance of its willingness to sacrifice public well being to guard business outcomes. “
The teams mentioned they are going to ask President-elect Joe Biden’s administration to approve the petition. Biden nominated Michael Regan, secretary of the North Carolina Division of Environmental High quality, to steer EPA. Biden has mentioned it should declare two of the oldest and most troublesome PFASs, perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), hazardous substances underneath federal Superfund regulation, which may present an enormous increase in cleansing up poisonous chemical compounds.
Roughly 5,000 various kinds of PFAS are identified to exist. They’re used to make grease or waterproof merchandise and are discovered in lots of on a regular basis merchandise together with non-stick cookware, water repellent clothes, stain resistant carpets, lubricants, fireplace combating foams, paints, cosmetics, dishes of paper and quick meals. packaging.
Virtually everybody in the US is believed to have some degree of PFAS of their blood, however few states have as a lot contamination of their ingesting water as North Carolina. PFAS are referred to as “everlasting chemical compounds” as a result of they don’t break down simply within the atmosphere or accumulate within the physique.
PFAS are ubiquitous
Elevated ranges of PFAS have been present in ingesting water all through the Cape Concern River Basin, from Greensboro to the coast.
In a video convention final month saying the findings of a examine of PFAS within the blood of Pittsboro residents, Duke College researcher Heather Stapleton mentioned that 1 million individuals drawing ingesting water from the basin could possibly be doubtlessly uncovered to elevated ranges of PFAS.
Stapleton additionally mentioned that the forms of PFAS discovered within the blood of Pittsboro residents are “strikingly comparable” to these discovered within the blood of Wilmington residents.
Nevertheless, some forms of PFAS, together with GenX and Nafion by-products, are launched virtually completely by Chemours in North Carolina. Each compounds have been discovered at extraordinarily excessive ranges in ingesting water downstream from the Bladen County plant earlier than the corporate was pressured to cease discharging its wastewater into the river in 2017.
Nevertheless, elevated ranges of the substances are nonetheless discovered within the river, which primarily come from groundwater seepage, runoff, and sediment. Final yr, the state Division of Environmental High quality took further motion towards Chemours that it says will considerably scale back the load of PFAS within the river.
However the environmental teams that filed the petition need greater than guarantees to cease the air pollution. They need industries to be held accountable and so they need to know what many years of contaminated ingesting water may have an effect on their well being.
“The chemical giants proceed to reap monetary advantages from their reckless conduct on the expense of human well being and the atmosphere,” mentioned Dana Sargent, government director of Cape Concern River Watch, within the assertion. “This petition holds a minimum of one polluter accountable for paying to search out out what harm they’ve performed to the well being of members of their group in North Carolina.”