EPA rescinds approval of Chemours importing waste material containing GenX

RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rescinded its approval for imports of four million pounds of waste material containing GenX from a Chemours facility in the Netherlands to the Fayetteville Works Plant, Gov. Roy Cooper’s Office announced Wednesday.

“It’s good that the EPA reversed this decision and I’m grateful for their quick response,” said Gov. Cooper. “We have been working for years in North Carolina to force the cleanup of forever chemicals to help ensure clean water, and companies like Chemours have made this effort more difficult.”

The EPA notified Cooper of the decision in a letter received Wednesday.

GenX is a type of PFA toxin also known as a “forever chemical.”

According to the EPA’s letter to Cooper, Chemours sent a letter to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality on Nov. 13 stating that there were errors in the export volume requested, and the Fayetteville Works Plant was not capable of processing the amount of GenX waste listed on the original approval.

Both the Governor and the New Hanover Board of Commissioners sent letters to the EPA earlier this month expressing their concern about Chemours’ intention to import the waste containing GenX.

“After our recent correspondence with the EPA, we were informed of the decision to revoke Chemours’ consent to import GenX-contaminated wastewater into North Carolina,” a joint statement from the Board of Commissioners reads. This development is a significant victory for the environmental health and safety of New Hanover County and the Cape Fear River. We commend the EPA and NCDEQ for their diligent efforts and collaboration in making this critical decision, reflecting our shared commitment to protect our community.”

Chemours released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

Our reclamation and recycling process for HFPO-DA is circular and more environmentally friendly than manufacturing larger quantities of new compound. The Fayetteville operation that is used for recycling of HFPO-DA does not discharge to the Cape Fear River, meaning it does not impact communities downstream.

We identified and acknowledged a calculation error in the applications to the Dutch ILT that we proactively disclosed to US regulators. The amount being imported is in fact far below the levels approved by EPA in the original permit. We regret that misinformation about HFPO-DA recycling has dominated the media landscape and raised unnecessary alarm. We are working to correct the information and will continue engage with authorities on the path forward.

Chemours responsibly manufactures critical products that support national and Biden Administration priorities like American manufacturing of semiconductors and decarbonizing the energy sector. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in state-of-the-art emissions controls at our Fayetteville site. Our products and our actions promote a more sustainable future, and we will continue to deliver on our commitment to reduce our environmental footprint.

The EPA’s letter to Gov. Cooper can be read below:

Cooper’s original letter to the EPA can be read below:

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners can be read below: