North Carolina is getting tougher on industries that pollute the state’s air and waterways with potentially carcinogenic per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, commonly known as PFAS or “forever chemicals.”
On Aug. 10, state Attorney General Josh Stein announced that he is starting an investigation into manufacturers and others that have fouled the state’s lakes, rivers and streams with PFAS.
Stein’s office declined to reveal what the investigation will entail, but it later confirmed that Stein has partnered with the national environmental law firm Kelley Drye & Warren. The firm, based in New York with offices in seven other states, says on its website that it is involved in more than 20 PFAS lawsuits across the country.
Three days after Stein’s announcement, the state Department of Environmental Quality, along with Cape Fear River Watch and the Southern Environmental Law Center, said it plans to take significant additional action against Chemours to compel the company to rid PFAS from the groundwater at the chemical company’s plant along the banks of the Cape Fear River in Bladen County.
Enforceable standards needed
While researchers, environmental activists and some state lawmakers applaud those actions, they say the efforts don’t go far enough to protect hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians from drinking tap water that has been contaminated by GenX and other PFAS.
What is needed at a minimum, they say, are enforceable statewide PFAS drinking water standards — known as maximum contaminant levels or MCLs — that would trigger a requirement forcing municipal water utilities to meet the new regulations.
North Carolina Health News, 9 September 2020