Company fined over water problems in Cape Fear River

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 2, 2021

WILMINGTON (AP) — North Carolina regulators have fined a company nearly $200,000 over problems with water treatment systems designed to stop contaminated wastewater from reaching the Cape Fear River, the primary drinking water source for an estimated 350,000 downstream residents.

The state Department of Environmental Quality says The Chemours Co. isn’t keeping manmade “forever chemicals” out of the river, the StarNews of Wilmington reports. The fines imposed Wednesday were for violations related to the company’s failure to properly construct and install water treatment measures at its Fayetteville Works plant, according to the newspaper.

The river is the source of drinking water in the fast-growing Wilmington area. Chemours was required to install the treatment systems as part of a 2019 settlement agreement with the state.

“We will take all appropriate enforcement actions when they fall short of those obligations,” DEQ Secretary Dionne Delli-Gatti said in a statement.

Wednesday’s fines included $127,000 for inadequately designing a treatment system that began operating on Sept. 30.

Chemours said in a statement that it is committed to meeting requirements to eliminate all discharges of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, noting it has stopped 97% of them. “We’ve been improving the treatment system’s ability to handle sediment loads, and have already made upgrades to allow for better solids management and overflow during heavy rains,” said company spokeswoman Lisa Randall. “We’re focused on additional upgrades to improve the overall robustness and reliability of this system.”