Environmental groups asked the EPA to force Chemours to conduct health studies on 54 types of “forever chemicals” they say come from the chemical plant.
By Greg Barnes
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rejected a petition from six North Carolina environmental groups that would have forced the Chemours chemical company to fund health studies on 54 types of “forever chemicals” released from its Fayetteville Works plant.
The EPA said in a Jan. 7 response that the petitioners failed to prove the requested data was needed.
The petition was filed Oct. 14 by the Center for Environmental Health, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Cape Fear, NC Black Alliance, Democracy Green and Toxic Free NC. The group sought a rule of order under the Toxic Substances Control Act compelling Chemours to fund and carry out health and environmental testing of the 54 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — commonly known as PFAS — through a panel of independent scientists.
Leaders of the groups had strong words following the EPA’s denial.
“I believe the EPA is lying to North Carolinians, and by extension the rest of America,” Emily Donovan, co-founder of Clean Cape Fear, said in an email. “If, as the EPA suggests, enough scientific data already exists to deny our petition then where are the drinking water standards for these 54 PFAS? Fish and wildlife consumption advisories? Fact sheets for medical practitioners and state health departments?
“The required data doesn’t exist to produce these vital protections. The EPA knows it and my children are still being exposed to many of these PFAS. My friends and neighbors are sick. My husband almost lost his eyesight to a brain tumor and I’m tired of a government, funded by taxpayer dollars, refusing to do its job.”
Nearly 300,000 exposed
The environmental groups say Chemours — and before it DuPont — are responsible for PFAS contamination in the Cape Fear River downstream of the Bladen County chemical plant and in more than 4,000 private wells surrounding it. Before 2015, DuPont owned and managed the Fayetteville Works facility, then the company spun off Chemours into a separate entity.
Nearly 300,000 people surrounding the plant and living downstream of it are believed to have been exposed to elevated levels of PFAS from decades of unregulated PFAS being discharged into the river and the air. The substances have also been found in vegetables grown near the plant and in fish, alligators and other wildlife downstream.
Potential adverse health effects from PFAS include liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone and immune suppression and cancers of the liver, kidneys, pancreas, testicles and thyroid.
Chemours contends that the levels of PFAS found in drinking water drawn from the Cape Fear River and in private well water are not enough to cause human harm. Yet mounting evidence suggests that even extremely low levels of certain types of PFAS may…
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