On Tuesday, Aug, 14, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is coming to Fayetteville to hear from the community.
On Tuesday, Aug, 14, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is coming to Fayetteville to hear from the North Carolina community about GenX and other perflourinated chemicals that have contaminated our drinking water for decades. Although it is important that the EPA is touring the country to listen to the concerns of those who have been affected by chemicals like GenX, it is critical that both our federal and state governments act to fix the problem. We will be sure to take this opportunity to voice our frustration and anger, and to propose long-term solutions to this problem. But we want more than to be heard. We want immediate action on Chemours’ continuing pollution of our environment. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality can and must act now to stop Chemours’ toxic contamination.
We found out about GenX in our tap water in June 2017. For the past 14 months, we have demanded action from DuPont and Chemours, from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, and from our legislature. We have attended meeting after meeting; we have written countless letters and op-eds; we have filed lawsuits -- all so that we no longer have to drink poisoned water. Yet Chemours continues to pump its pollutants into the air. Each week, the toxic particles build on those that the companies have released for the past four decades. They stay in the water and soil, in the fish and other animals, in the honey and vegetation, and in our bodies and the bodies of our children for years.
At the EPA’s hearing, Cape Fear River Watch will recommend that the federal agency act to address all forms of perflourinated chemicals, not simply PFOA and PFOS as currently planned. We will request that the EPA requires companies that are responsible for perfluorinated chemical pollution to pay for remediation, monitoring, and alternative water supplies and health studies for affected residents. We will ask that the agency lower its drinking water advisory levels for PFOA and PFOS now that the science has shown them to be even more harmful than previously thought. For long-term protection against perfluorinated chemicals and similar toxic drinking water pollutants, we will recommend that our federal government adopt the precautionary principle -- so that polluters can only release a chemical into our waters after they have proved that the release will not cause us and our families harm.
North Carolina cannot wait for the EPA to act. It must take immediate action against Chemours’ ongoing pollution. On May 7, 2018, Cape Fear River Watch asked the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality to use its emergency authority to order Chemours to immediately stop all of its emissions and discharges of toxic PFAS, including GenX. The agency denied our request, and we have been forced to appeal that decision in court. But this does not have to be resolved before a judge. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality can still act now to stop Chemours’ pollution, and it must do so to protect the people of North Carolina.
We want the EPA to hear our stories. We also want the EPA to find a real long-term solution to the PFAS contamination caused by companies like DuPont and Chemours throughout the country. As we have done for the past 14 months, we will attend this meeting and share our concerns. But this meeting will not solve the toxic pollution that still comes out of Chemours’ facility. Only the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality can solve that problem now.
Kemp Burdette is the Cape Fear Riverkeeper with Cape Fear River Watch.