“As state and federal agencies investigate GenX in groundwater, Carolina Journalhas learned GenX and its family of unregulated emerging contaminants are present in some of the solar panels increasingly dotting North Carolina’s landscape.
GenX chemicals are classified as perfluorinated alkylated substances, commonly called PFAS. Responding to a CJ query, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said, ‘Publicly available information indicates that PFAS are used in the production of fluoropolymer Teflon film that is marketed for use in photovoltaics, which could include components of solar cells/panels.’
Chemical manufacturer Chemours makes GenX at its Fayetteville Works plant. The state and others have sued the company for releasing the chemical into the Cape Fear River, contaminating drinking supplies.
Mark J. Strynar, an EPA scientist whose research helped to identify Chemours’ GenX pollution, has said the EPA compiled 39 records showing PFAS related to solar panel components. Chemours uses GenX to make Teflon. Its marketing materials say Teflon film is used as the front coating in many solar panels.
Politicians and activist groups are demanding answers — and action against the company.
Sens. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick; and Wesley Meredith, R-Cumberland, filed Senate Bill 724 ordering Chemours to be shut down if it didn’t stop releasing GenX. Reps. Ted Davis, R-New Hanover; Holly Grange, R-New Hanover; Frank Iler, R-Brunswick; and William Brisson, R-Bladen, filed an identical House Bill 972.
CJ asked all the lawmakers if they had any concerns about the possible presence of GenX in solar panels. Only Lee responded. ‘I have heard that GenX is in solar panels, but never anything confirming it,’ Lee said. He referred to a Fortune magazine article about GenX used in many consumer and commercial purposes.
During debate on the House override of Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget bill veto, Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover, said budget writers didn’t spend enough to address GenX concerns.
‘We seem to want to put the blinders on instead of addressing this in a comprehensive fashion,’ Butler said from the House floor.
Asked by CJ if she was concerned about potential GenX contamination from solar panels, Butler said: ‘This is the first I am hearing about this. I am absolutely interested in learning more about this matter.’
Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, whose 8th Congressional District includes areas affected by GenX, is concerned about potential contamination from GenX in solar panels…
CJ asked DuPont which solar companies used Teflon film and how many solar panels in North Carolina might contain GenX. “This product line has been divested and is now part of the Chemours Company,” a DuPont statement said, directing queries to Chemours.
Chemours has not responded to numerous requests for an interview or answered questions about GenX in solar panels. It did forward a copy of a June 11 status report submitted to the court as part of the state’s lawsuit over discharges at the plant…
Neighbors opposing the industrial-scale Wilkinson Solar Plant in Beaufort County have raised fears in state Utilities Commission proceedings that GenX could be in solar panels.
‘As that matter and the issues raised therein are still before the commission, I cannot comment on the merits of that case,’ said Ed Finley, Utilities Commission chairman. ‘Those issues will be addressed by the commission panel that heard the case in its decision along with the other issues raised in that proceeding.’
The Utilities Commission doesn’t track locations or numbers of solar panels containing GenX .
The state Department of Environmental Quality hasn’t given CJ answers about any GenX research related to the compound’s use in solar panels. Nor has DEQ responded to a May 24 public records request seeking departmental communications involving GenX in solar panels.
Alan Ducatman, who teaches environmental health sciences at West Virginia University’s School of Public Health, has studied the health effects of GenX. He has noted studies show GenX displays biological effects like the C8 compound it replaced in Teflon production.”
Read the full article by Dan Way