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DEQ requiring Chemours to expand well sampling to 14,000 homes for PFAS

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DEQ requiring Chemours to expand well sampling to 14,000 homes for PFAS

Dec 06, 2023 | 12:00 pm ET
By Lisa Sorg
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DEQ requiring Chemours to expand well sampling to 14,000 homes for PFAS
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This map shows the areas where private well owners can qualify to have their drinking water tested for PFAS, for free. (Map: DEQ)

More than 14,100 homes could qualify for private well sampling for PFAS contamination, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality announced today.

DEQ is requiring Chemours, which is responsible for the contamination, to expand the testing area to additional homes in New Hanover, Brunswick, Columbus, and Pender counties. These areas have borne the brunt of PFAS contamination from Chemours’s Fayetteville Works plant in far northern Bladen County.

The expanded sampling footprint in the four-county region now includes the following areas:

  • A floodplain buffer that includes the Intracoastal Waterway and significant portions of tributaries of the Cape Fear River. Wells within a quarter-mile of this new buffer will qualify for testing.
  • Updated buffers around all PFAS detections to include a quarter-mile around the parcel, not the well. This ensures neighbors within a quarter-mile of a property with well contamination will be tested, DEQ said.
  • Wells within a quarter-mile of public water lines are eligible for sampling.
  • There are now additional requirements for biosolid land application sites.

According to an agency press release, the expansion comes after DEQ staff completed extensive review of results to date, floodplain mapping and Chemours’ 2022 updated interim sampling and drinking water plan.

There are roughly 15,000 PFAS — short for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances. This family of compounds has been proven to harm human health, including increasing the risk of testicular, kidney, liver and pancreatic cancers, low birth weight, reproductive disorders, depressed immune responses and high cholesterol. They are widespread in the environment, where they don’t degrade, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.”

At least 7,000 private wells near and south of Chemours contain elevated levels of PFAS above the EPA’s proposed health goal. If the EPA succeeds in passing more stringent drinking water standards, that number could spike. Dozens of public water systems in North Carolina also contain the compounds.

Residents interested in having their wells samples should call Chemours at (910) 678-1100 or complete Chemours’ online form.  If prompted to leave a message, residents should leave their full contact information and address to ensure their call is recorded.  The return call may come from Parsons Environmental, the authorized third-party contractor conducting the well sampling for Chemours. The private well must be the primary source of drinking water for the residence to qualify for testing.

Residents who have previously requested sampling and are newly eligible will be contacted soon for their well to be tested.

Depending on the test results, residents could qualify for free, alternate water supplies.

  • Wells containing 10 parts per trillion or above for GenX
  • Wells containing 70 ppt or above for combined levels of PFAS included in a consent order among Chemours, DEQ and Cape Fear River Watch. The list is on the final page of the consent order.
  • 10 ppt for any individual PFAS compound on the consent order list

Additional information about well sampling for residents in the four county area is available online.