NC attorney general investigating production at Fayetteville plant of chemical that ended up in water

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) — The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office has initiated an investigation into Chemours’ production and disposal of the unregulated compound GenX at its facility.

The Civil Investigative Demand signed Friday by Attorney General Josh Stein requires Chemours produce all GenX-related records for inspection by August 21 at the Office of the North Carolina Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division in Raleigh.

“This CID is under the Attorney General’s powers to investigate deceptive trade or marketing practices,” a spokesperson from Stein’s office said in an email Friday.

Stein added that one of his primary concerns is how GenX was described in marketing campaigns by Chemours. The email from Stein’s office notes that GenX products are labeled as having “more sustainable technology” that allows Chemours to “reduce the potential for environmental release and exposure.”

“When something is marketed as sustainable, people think it’s safe,” Stein said in a statement. “That’s never more important than when it is in their drinking water or the lining of the pots and pans they use to cook for their families. We need to know more about how Chemours markets GenX, its risks and its environmental sustainability – that’s what this action demands.”

Chemours, formed by the chemical giant DuPont in 2015, operates at the Fayetteville Works manufacturing plant, which is located along the Cape Fear River near the Bladen-Cumberland county line. The company manufactures GenX, introduced by DuPont in 2009 to replace a key ingredient in Teflon linked to cancer and other ailments at its facility, but told local officials in a June 15 closed meeting the GenX discovered in the Cape Fear River and area public water supplies was likely an unintended byproduct of a vinyl ether process at another location on the vast industrial site.

“We continue to work closely with local, state and federal officials to determine the appropriate next steps,” Chemours said in an emailed statement in response to Stein’s CID.

Water sample testing revealed reduced levels of GenX in the water after Chemours said it had stopped discharging the chemical into the river, but after saying on June 21 it was ending GenX discharge, Chemours was found by the NC Department of Environmental Quality to have made additional discharges after June 27.

Cape Fear Public Utility Authority samples yielded a July 10 test of 145 parts per trillion, slightly higher than the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ updated health goal of 140 parts per trillion, but it was back down to 122 parts per trillion by July 12.

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