On October 14, 2020, a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGO) petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to request that EPA require health and environmental effects testing on 54 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The petition seeks issuance of a rule or order under TSCA Section 4 compelling The Chemours Company (Chemours) to fund and carry out this testing under the direction of a panel of independent scientists. EPA acknowledged receipt of the petition, noting that TSCA Section 21 provides that the EPA Administrator shall either grant or deny a petition within 90 days (January 11, 2021, in this case) after the date of filing. If the Administrator grants the petition, the Administrator shall promptly commence an appropriate proceeding. If the Administrator denies the petition, the Administrator shall publish the reasons for such a denial in the Federal Register. EPA states that the petition is under review by the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT). The petition was filed by the following non-profit public health, environmental, and environmental justice groups based in North Carolina — Center for Environmental Health, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Cape Fear, Democracy Green, the NC Black Alliance, and Toxic Free NC.
According to the petition, the Fayetteville chemical manufacturing facility, located on the Cape Fear River upstream of Wilmington, North Carolina, “has long been a major producer and user of PFAS under the ownership of E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, Inc. (DuPont) and, since 2015, Chemours, a DuPont spinoff.” The petition states that several of these PFAS have been identified in drinking water sources serving over a quarter of a million people in the Cape Fear watershed, in human blood, and in environmental media. Petitioners have identified a total of 54 PFAS (not including legacy substances) that they claim are attributable to the Chemours facility and have been detected in environmental media and/or people in the Cape Fear River watershed.
The petition acknowledges that under a consent order between EPA and Chemours, GenX compounds have undergone some toxicological testing but states that available studies are incomplete. According to the petition, there is also some testing underway on a small number of other PFAS under a North Carolina consent order, but these studies are limited in scope. The petition states that no health or environmental effects testing has been conducted on the remainder of the 54 PFAS, and for all 54 substances, there are insufficient data to determine risks to the exposed population and the surrounding ecosystem and to set risk reduction targets and other protective measures.
The National Law Review, 29 October 2020