Read the full article by Lee Hinnant, Staff Writer (stateportpilot.com)
“Federal prosecutors who convened a grand jury will not press criminal charges against a chemical company that discharged toxic waste into the Cape Fear River and prompted a flurry of responses, including a local decision to spend tens of millions of dollars to better filter drinking water in Brunswick County.
Chemours, a Fayetteville-based spinoff of the DuPont company, discharged GenX and other PFAS-type chemicals into the river, air and groundwater for years. The discharges are the subject of investigations by local, state and federal regulators, as well as regional utilities that rely on river for drinking water and the protection of natural resources, including marine life.
Travis Fain of WRAL-TV5 first reported that federal prosecutors declined to press criminal charges against the company. There were no press releases; Chemours revealed the news in its 10-Q form required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, submitted on or about May 1.
Chemours formally alerted shareholders about the state’s notice of violations (NOV) and the perceived ramifications of legal actions in the 10-Q.
‘The company responded to grand jury subpoenas, produced witnesses before a grand jury and for interviews with government investigators and attorneys, and met with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Environmental Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice regarding their investigation into a potential violation of the CWA (Clean Water Act). In March 2020, the U.S. Attorney notified the company that, after an extensive review of the law and all the facts, it declined to pursue any criminal action against Chemours and is closing its file. ‘An NOV was received from the EPA in February 2019 alleging certain … violations at Fayetteville. Matters raised in the NOV could have the potential to affect operations at Fayetteville. The Company responded to the EPA in March 2019, asserting that the Company has not violated environmental laws. As of March 31, 2020, management does not believe that a loss is probable.”
In its 74-page statement to shareholders, Chemours discussed a litany of pollution issues. The Cape Fear River and PFAS potential violations are expected to cost $196-million in remediation costs for the current fiscal year, the company stated.
The fact that criminal charges won’t be sought at the federal level has not reduced concern about GenX and related chemical issues for people drinking the water in Brunswick County.
‘We are aware of the grand jury’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Chemours, but this decision does not affect the county’s ongoing civil litigation to hold Chemours accountable for its actions in contaminating the county’s source of drinking water,’ said Frank Williams, chairman of the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners…”