Earlier this month, Governor Roy Cooper sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan strongly urging EPA to reverse its decision to allow shipments of waste material containing GenX from the Netherlands to North Carolina.
GenX is a member of a family of chemical compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) or “forever chemicals”. Exposure to these chemicals have been linked to adverse health effects, including damage to the kidneys, liver, immune system, and reproductive problems and several types of cancers.
Despite its devastating impact on communities across North Carolina, and in the U.S., Chemours sought approval to import more than 4 million pounds of PFAS-containing material over the next 12 months from the Netherlands to the Chemours Fayetteville Works Facility.
“North Carolina has been at the forefront of PFAS [Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances] issues for the past seven years and worked relentlessly to mitigate the health risks posed by these chemicals,” Gov. Cooper stated in a press release.
“It is unacceptable for North Carolinians to bear the risks associated with importing millions of pounds of GenX from other countries for disposal in our air, land, and water.”
For decades, communities across the state have lived near polluted waterways that have been found to have forever chemicals.
In 2018, unsafe levels of PFAS had been found in the groundwater of more than 4,000 homes near the Chemours factory in Fayetteville.
Just a year prior, Wilmington Star News reported on Chemours and its predecessor, DuPont, dumping the toxic chemicals into the Cape Fear River from its Fayetteville Works plant. The Cape Fear River is the primary drinking water source for over a million residents, including in the Wilmington area.
An exposure study in 2022 found that many North Carolinians living in the Cape Fear River basin who volunteered to take part in the study had higher levels of four highly fluorinated compounds in their blood than the average American.
Along with Gov. Cooper, Brunswick, and New Hanover County officials expressed concerns over the big polluter’s import of toxic waste.
According to the governor’s office, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has stated to federal officials that allowing the import “does not align with the goals of EPA’s Strategic Roadmap for PFAS or with the state’s ongoing work to address the contamination of the Cape Fear River and the surrounding communities.”
An EPA official has stated that there are no shipments taking place in 2023 and “none are currently en route from the Netherlands to North Carolina.”