Community and Advocacy Groups Support GenX Health Advisory in Intervening in Chemours v. EPA Case
WILMINGTON, NC (August 12, 2022) – A coalition of community, public health and environmental justice groups and residents of southeastern North Carolina has offered to intervene in a legal challenge by chemical manufacturer Chemours to the recently issued Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Drinking Water Health Advisory for GenX chemicals. Produced at the Chemours plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina, GenX chemicals are harmful members of the PFAS class of toxic “eternal chemicals” that have been polluting the Cape Fear River, a source of drinking water for four decades. for almost 500,000 inhabitants. Backed by extensive peer-reviewed scientific data, the advisory identifies a GenX level of 10 parts per trillion (ppt) in drinking water to protect communities from serious health effects from GenX exposure.
Coalition members are Center for Environmental Health, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Cape Fear, Democracy Green, North Carolina Black Alliance, Toxic Free North Carolina, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and five residents, Lacey Brown, Kyle Horton, Harper Peterson, Debra Stewart and Mike Watters.
Here are the statements of the groups filing the motion to intervene:
“Chemours illegally released GenX into our drinking water supply. They put my family, my friends, my neighbors and my community in danger for decades. Our children deserve to go to school with the feeling that their water is safe to drink. – Emily Donovan, co-founder, Clean Cape Fear
“By fighting this health advisory after their industry’s own science proved these chemicals to be toxic 50 years ago – and while launching a shrewd public relations campaign to convince the community they poisoned that they are ‘good neighbours’ who care – Chemours has once again proven the only thing they care about is their bottom line – Dana Sargent, Executive Director, Cape Fear River Watch
“Black and brown communities are already suffering the overwhelming burden of the cumulative impact on their respective communities, in addition to having to bear the impact of ingesting these chemicals forever.” – Jovita Lee, Program Director, North Carolina Black Alliance
“The ‘Forever Chemical’ PFAS will forever impact our communities and ease health disparities for decades. The CDC has found PFAS in the blood of 99% of Americans. – Sanja Whittington, Democracy Green
“With its announcement of new health advisory levels, the EPA has acknowledged that ‘forever chemicals’ are harmful even at low concentrations. North Carolina deserves environmental justice and polluter accountability. – Alexis Luckey, NC toxic free
“The EPA conducted a rigorous, multi-year process to assess the health effects of GenX and its findings were supported by two independent expert panels. Chemours had every opportunity to weigh in but didn’t prevail on the day. Now he’s filing a final lawsuit to block the advisory as the state of North Carolina works to provide stronger drinking water protections for residents suffering from PFAS contamination of their supplies. in water. This irresponsible effort to deprive communities at risk of the protection they urgently need must be rejected. – Bob Sussman, North Carolina class and individual attorney and former EPA official
“We are filing this motion to intervene in the Chemours case because justice demands that we protect the interests of frontline communities, not those of the chemical industry. EPA’s extensive scientific findings demonstrate that GenX and other PFAS harm human health. The EPA serves the public by providing communities and state and local governments with the best information to protect public health. – Kathryn AlcantarCEH
“Chemours is responsible for turning North Carolina into ground zero for GenX contamination. We will not sit idly by as society tries to challenge the solid science detailing the harmful risks associated with ingesting these dangerous chemicals. Alongside our partners who have fought to eliminate PFAS for years, we will continue to advocate for stronger PFAS and GenX regulations and protect drinking water for millions of Americans. – Erik D. Olson, Senior Strategic Director, Health and Food, NRDC
PFAS, which include PFOA, PFOS, and GenX, are a large class of toxic “eternal chemicals” that are highly mobile and do not readily break down in the environment, leading to widespread contamination. PFASs have been linked to health problems, including cancers, liver and kidney damage, weakened immune systems, and developmental problems.
GenX chemicals are among hundreds of PFASs that DuPont and its subsidiary Chemours dumped into the Cape Fear River beginning in the 1970s, causing massive contamination of drinking water, groundwater, air and food. locally produced. Exposure to GenX in municipal drinking water and private wells exceeded the 10 ppt level in the EPA health advisory and thousands of residents consumed PFAS, including GenX, at levels well greater than 10 ppt, leading to widespread concern about adverse health effects.
The GenX Health Advisory is based on a comprehensive, multi-year toxicity assessment of GenX that EPA scientists completed in the fall of 2021. The assessment was reviewed and approved by two groups of independent scientists.
The advisory is not binding on the EPA and provides information that drinking water suppliers, states and local governments can consider to protect their drinking water. The State of North Carolina announced that it strongly supports the advisory and is already using the scientific advice provided by it in the state’s efforts to reduce GenX contamination in affected areas of the State.
On July 13, 2022, Chemours filed a petition for review with the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit of Philadelphia, challenging the GenX Health Advisory. Before the coalition can participate in the case, the court must rule on their pending application to intervene.
Clean Cape Fear is an alliance of established advocacy groups, community leaders, educators and professionals working together to restore and protect the quality of our water, as well as to bring to light loopholes in government regulations that negatively impact our right to drinking water. Follow them on Twitter @CleanCapeFear.
Cape Fear River Watch works to protect and improve the water quality of the Cape Fear River Basin for all through education, advocacy and action, with a proven track record of success. Follow them on Twitter @CapeFearRiver.
The Environmental Health Center (CEH) is a 26-year-old organization that leads the national effort to protect people from toxic chemicals by working with communities, consumers, workers, government and the private sector to demand and support business practices safer for public health and the environment. Learn more at ceh.org or on Twitter at @CenterEnvHealth.
North Carolina Black Alliance works for systemic change at the state level by strengthening the network of elected officials representing communities of color across the state and collaborating with grassroots progressive networks on intersecting issues. Follow them on Twitter @NCBlackAlliance.
Green democracy is a movement to connect frontline communities with immediate rapid response, rapid relief, mutual aid and long-term political power building in the aftermath of disasters, focusing on reforming our democracy through the four justices: environmental and climatic, land and food, economic and political. Follow them on Facebook @DemocracyGreen.
North Carolina Toxic Free engages the community in initiatives that advance environmental health and justice by advocating for safe alternatives to harmful pesticides and chemicals. Their vision is a toxic-free North Carolina that is part of a fair and equitable global community where human and environmental health is valued, respected, and appreciated by all. Follow them on Twitter @ToxicFreeNC.
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international non-profit environmental organization with over 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health and the environment. The NRDC has offices in New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.