BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Bladen County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with Chemours that paves the way for the chemical giant to pay for upgrades to the county’s public water infrastructure and for residents with contaminated wells to hook up to the county’s water system.
“This agreement with Chemours is important for the citizens of Bladen County,” said Chairman Charles Peterson. “The terms provide the necessary infrastructure to enable the Bladen County Water District to assure existing and future customers that the quality of water remains high and meets regulatory standards for safe, potable drinking water.”
According to a draft of the agreement, the county raised concerns over recent testing of two of the public water system’s wells — the Tobermory well and Live Oak well — that revealed “detectable” levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including GenX. However, the levels were below the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) health goal of 140 ng/L.
As part of the 2019 consent order between Chemours and DEQ over PFAS contamination, Chemours assumed the responsibility of permanently providing replacement drinking water supplies in the form of public water or whole building filtration system for any party whose private well was found to be contaminated with PFAS.
Under the proposed agreement, Chemours would pay for and maintain PFAS treatment systems at both of the county wells for either 20 years or until either well no longer has PFAS levels above 10 ng/L. Chemours would continue operating and maintaining the systems if PFAS were still detected after either of the aforementioned dates.
If the county decides to expand its water system capacity, and such expansion requires the replacement of either or both wells during the 20-year period, Chemours would pay the county between $150,000 and $750,000 per well, depending on when they are taken off-line.
The county would also agree not to add new wells in areas with known underground PFAS contamination as part of any possible future expansion, according to the agreement.
The agreement also provides for Bladen County residents who have contaminated private wells to be connected to the county’s water system.
Testing revealed that 67 private wells in Bladen County have PFAS concentrations above the 140 ng/L threshold set forth by DEQ. Of those wells, 61 are west of the Cape Fear River and can possibly be hooked up to the county’s water system.
Chemours would fund the capital costs for the county — expected not to exceed $1.1 million — to expand its distribution system to residents who want to be hooked up. The company would also pay for all costs associated with the installing water service at a resident’s home.
Chemours would have the right to terminate the project after six months if not enough eligible residents sign up for service, and the project is deemed “economically infeasible.”
“We are pleased we have reached an agreement with Bladen County that helps shape one of the many improvements the county is driving for its residents,” said Dawn Hughes, Chemours’ Fayetteville Works Plant manager. ” I want to thank the county commissioners and county manager’s office for their leadership and collaboration in our shared goal to find meaningful solutions that benefit the entre community.”
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