The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) community engagement event on Tuesday, August 14, 2018 at the Crown Ballroom in Fayetteville, North Carolina at the invitation of Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC). This day-long event included presentations from EPA program heads, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) research directors, NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) senior leadership, local government utilities directors, and community organizations.
EPA conducted this meeting in two sessions – a PFS working session and public listening session – to provide the latest updates on a national strategy to address emerging contaminants and to hear directly from North Carolina communities about their concerns and recommendations. EPA has conducted similar engagements with communities impacted by PFAS in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and Colorado. Using information from the National Leadership Summit, community engagements, and public input provided by the docket, EPA plans to develop a PFAS Management Plan for release later this year.
Key take-aways from the meeting:
Michael Regan, Secretary, NCDEQ: NC will be a strong partner with EPA as they develop a national strategy. NCDEQ will seek state funding to ensure we are an adequate partner. NCDEQ will soon be reporting to the public on the effectiveness of some home filtration systems that have been set up as a pilot program.
Thomas Speth, Acting Associate Director for Science, National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL): Promising results from using granulated activated carbon (GAC) to remove PFAS from water.
Linda Culpepper, Interim Director, Division of Water Resources, DEQ: Standards are not in place for PFAS. DEQ is also working on 1,4-Dioxane and Bromide. DEQ did not get all the funding they needed to address emerging contaminants. Environmental protection does not have to be at odds with economic interests.
William Cibulus, Acting Director, Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences, ATSDR: The ATSDR received $10M in the recent DoD bill to conduct exposure assessments over the next 2 years and a multi-site PFAS health study over the next 5 - 7 years.
Carl Vandermeyden, Director of Engineering, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA): The CFPUA is upgrading their system to treat PFAS with GAC. This upgrade will cost $46M capital and $2.9M annual operating. They have spent $2.2M so far and are suing Chemours to recover costs. They want stricter source control, improved NPDES permitting/enforcement, PFAS regulation.
Michael Borchers, Assistant Director, Greensboro Water Resources Department: They are installing a powdered activated carbon system and piloting a GAC. He said their source was fire-fighting foam from airport authority and FedX doing emergency response training. They have not worked out cost yet.
Mike Abraczinskas, Director, Division of Air Quality, DEQ: They sampled a network of rainwater stations to determine atmospheric deposition. Showed GenX 20 miles from source. Chemours will install Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer by 2020 to reduce GenX emissions by 99%.
Michael Scott, Director, Division of Waste Management, DEQ: They sampled private wells and found 164 residents needed bottled water. They have set up 6 whole house filtration systems and will have a public meeting in the Fall of this year to discuss the effectiveness of these filtration systems.
Kemp Burdette, River Keeper, Cape Fear River Watch: He also was representing Sierra Club, North Carolina Conservation Network, North Carolina Coastal Federation and the Southern Environmental Law Center. River Keepers want EPA to consider all PFAS as a class of compounds and lower the level to 10 PPT, per minimal risk levels in the ATSDR Toxicological Profile (released June, 2018). They want to see PFAS banned for new facilities and listed as a hazardous substance. They want legislature to give regulatory agencies more funding.
Emily Donovan, Co-Founder, Clean Cape Fear: Their focus is building public awareness. GenX is just a small percentage of what is being found. She is concerned that EPA cannot answer simple questions about exposure. Nineteen different PFAS in their water with no health standard. Clean Cape Fear wants EPA to establish an MCL of 1 PPT for all PFAS.