Governor Cooper Highlights Administrationís Continued Work to Combat PFAS, Calls on Legislature for Additional Tools to Protect Drinking Water | Eastern North Carolina Now

RALEIGH: North Carolina continues to lead the way addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. Last week, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) took key steps to develop state surface water and groundwater standards for PFAS compounds.

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Press Release:

    RALEIGH: North Carolina continues to lead the way addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. Last week, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) took key steps to develop state surface water and groundwater standards for PFAS compounds. During Environmental Management Commission committee meetings, DEQ presented plans to draft rules enacting standards for six PFAS compounds, incorporating the latest available science. These standards, if adopted, would support proposed federal drinking water standards by preventing contamination upstream, reducing pollution and making drinking water safer. This rule-making action supports DEQ's work to limit PFAS discharges to the environment, protect public health and address remediation efforts to clean up existing PFAS contamination.

    "North Carolinians deserve clean, safe air and water and my administration has worked relentlessly to learn more about emerging compounds and hold polluters accountable. We know these chemicals can pose health risks and legislators need to give state regulators the tools to keep families safe and ensure polluters, not consumers and taxpayers, bear the cost of testing and treatment for chemicals in the water," said Governor Roy Cooper.

    "PFAS contamination is a state-wide issue, larger than one company or one compound. We are using every tool at our disposal to address these forever chemicals in a comprehensive way, reduce the amount of PFAS entering the environment and protect the health of North Carolinians," said DEQ Secretary Elizabeth S. Biser.

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    This rulemaking action follows significant action by the Cooper administration to combat PFAS and protect drinking water. Since releasing the DEQ Action Strategy for PFAS in June 2022, DEQ has taken significant action to address PFAS in the state with a focus on protecting communities, protecting drinking water and cleaning up existing contamination. DEQ has targeted state-level actions that work in tandem with the National Drinking Water Standards proposed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Setting state groundwater and surface water standards will help to reduce the PFAS reaching drinking water intakes and reduce the treatment public water systems will require to meet the proposed federal regulations.

    DEQ's Action Strategy builds on the state's existing PFAS work related to GenX contamination in the Cape Fear River basin that began in 2017 and expands that into a comprehensive statewide approach. DEQ is currently sampling 655 small public water systems, including school and daycares, to provide more complete data statewide. This follows last year's work to evaluate 50 municipal systems with PFAS detections. Of those, 42 systems currently have PFOA or PFOS above the EPA's proposed Maximum Contaminant Levels. DEQ is using federal funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support actions to reduce PFAS in drinking water at public water systems across the state.

    In June, DEQ launched a pilot program under the Bernard Allen Emergency Drinking Water Fund to support North Carolina residents with PFAS contamination in their private drinking water wells. Funding for treatment systems will be provided to eligible residents with PFAS contamination, based on household income to ensure those that can least afford it are able to reduce their PFAS exposure. The pilot program is meant to address PFAS contamination when there is no designated responsible party that provides alternate drinking water. This effort will continue as long as funding is available. It also highlights the need to address PFAS contamination in private drinking water wells as well as public water systems.

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    DEQ's regulatory divisions are requiring PFAS information from new facilities and industries; adding permit conditions as appropriate to address PFAS air emissions or wastewater discharges to require disclosure of data and additional monitoring; and requiring all solid waste sanitary landfills to include PFAS analyses of all regular groundwater, surface water and leachate samples.

    Additional Tools Needed to Clean Up PFAS, Hold Polluters Accountable and Protect Drinking Water

    A bipartisan bill filed in the House (House Bill 864) would prevent public water system customers from bearing the burden of PFAS-related treatment costs to address contamination from PFAS manufacturers. This places the responsibility of cleaning up drinking water on the polluter instead of the ratepayers.

    "People deserve to have confidence in their drinking water and taxpayers shouldn't have to pay to clean up corporate pollution," said Governor Cooper. "This bipartisan legislation would give the state an important tool to hold polluters accountable and keep our water safe, and I urge the North Carolina General Assembly to pass it."

    Governor Cooper's budget proposal would also provide additional resources to address contaminated drinking water. The Governor proposes more than $4 million in recurring funding to tackle PFAS in drinking water sources and create a dedicated team at DEQ of chemists, engineers, and environmental specialists to analyze emerging science and implement solutions to protect water.

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    North Carolina is also working with federal, state and academic partners to address PFAS nationally and further develop strategies to address the life cycle of PFAS.


    Contact: Sam Chan

    Phone: (919) 814-2100  •      Email: govpress@nc.gov
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