toxic chemical pollution

Gator in a toxic chemical soup: GenX levels dangerously high in wildlife

The indications of long-term exposure should be very concerning:

Belcher’s team compared alligators from Lake Waccamaw in Columbus County and Greenfield Lake in Wilmington with the latter showing levels of total PFAS more than 10 times higher. They also compared striped bass from the Pamlico Aquaculture Field Laboratory and Lock and Dam No. 1 on the Cape Fear River, with the latter showing levels more than 33 times higher.

Researchers are now, Belcher said, looking at whether the PFAS are affecting the immune systems or liver functions of the animals sampled -- endpoints that have also been identified in humans. Partners in the team’s research include Cape Fear River Watch, N.C. Sea Grant and the N.C. PFAST Network.

Studies like this are extremely important, because right now there haven't been enough to meet the "statistically relevant" watermark for Federal agencies like the CDC to come to any conclusions. No doubt industry has played a role in that dearth of information, something leaders in our state need to get through their thick skulls. Self-regulating doesn't work, no matter how much money it saves from your budgeting. Back to the gators and fish(es):

Chemours re-importing GenX waste from the Netherlands

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Too hazardous for Europe, just fine for North Carolina:

Chemours has “historically recycled” GenX waste at its Fayetteville Works plant that originated from the company’s facility in Dordrecht, Netherlands, a spokeswoman confirmed Friday. The purpose of exporting the material “is to reduce that quantity that is emitted or becomes waste,” Chemours spokeswoman Lisa Randall said.

“The re-importation of material from Dordrecht for responsible recycle is not something new,” Randall said, and has been occurring for about five years with EPA approval.

That five year timeline becomes much more significant when you look at the history of the DuPont/Chemours operation in Dordrecht. In 2012 Dutch regulators cracked down on the company for decades of mishandling C8 (precursor to GenX), including the mass dumping of the chemical compound in area landfills:

Superfund sites are ticking time-bombs in flood-prone NC

Containing a cornucopia of deadly toxins:

Among the Superfund sites most at risk from Florence is Horton Iron and Metal, a former shipbreaking operation and fertilizer manufacturing site in a low-lying floodplain along the Cape Fear River outside Wilmington, North Carolina. The 7.4-acre site is heavily contaminated with pesticides, asbestos, toxic metals and cancer-causing PCBs.

Upriver along the Cape Fear is Carolina Transformer Co., a 5-acre Superfund site in Fayetteville that also contains contaminated soil and groundwater contaminated with PCBs. Forecasts call for the river to crest Monday at Fayetteville at more than 62 feet — nearly 30 feet above flood stage.

Some of you younger readers may not be familiar with Poly-chlorinated Byphenyls (PCBs), because they were outlawed before you were born. And in a perfect world, you wouldn't be reading about them now, at least not in the context of current events. But we have a really bad habit of letting polluting industries file bankruptcy and/or change their corporate structure, so they can walk away from toxic nightmares they've created. Superfund sites are scattered all across the country, and efforts to clean them up properly are usually mired in legal maneuvering that can last decades. Anyway, back to the PCBs:

Manufacturer of GenX facing lawsuits on all fronts

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And the latest by SELC for Cape Fear River Watch is a doozie:

The Southern Environmental Law Center is representing Cape Fear River Watch in the lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court in Raleigh yesterday. The litigation alleges that Chemours and DuPont, its parent company, for decades have illegally discharged the chemicals not only into the Cape Fear River, but also the groundwater and air; these actions violate of the company’s federal discharge permit, the Clean Water Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act, the court filing says.

The SELC and Cape Fear River Watch are asking the court to force Chemours to stop all inadvertent discharges, to declare the company has violated environmental laws, and to assess penalties ranging from up to $37,000 per day to $52,000 day. Over years of violations, the penalties could accumulate to total millions of dollars.

Money is the only language these companies speak, and hefty court judgments are proving to be the only way to stop them from poisoning us. Here's the complaint itself, and it appears the contamination is much worse than has been commonly reported:

The anatomy of an environmental bad actor: DuPont's Teflon cover-up

The fallacy of allowing industry to self-regulate:

Thirty-four years ago, an employee from a DuPont plant near Parkersburg, West Virginia, filled a jug with tap water from a little general store just across the Ohio River called Mason’s Village Market. An internal DuPont document shows that the company was secretly testing the water for ammonium perfluorooctanoate — better known as C8. DuPont employees also took samples from stores in eight other unsuspecting communities in the Ohio River Valley.

The document shows C8 was detected at three stores closest to the plant, including Mason’s Village Market in Little Hocking, Ohio. It also shows that, at one of those stores, the level of C8 measured more than 20 times higher than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today considers safe for drinking water.

Their actions (or inaction) is proof the only reason they conducted this testing was to determine future legal exposure, not whether they should change their behavior for the safety of citizens. This compound has been slightly modified 3-4 times over the years, and again, it appears the reasons for those modifications was not to make them safer, just provide deniability. GenX is the most recent iteration, and here we are starting with a blank slate on just how toxic it is. But at least we seem to be ahead of the game compared to these poor folks:

Newest GenX lawsuit reveals DuPont downplayed animal studies

Knowingly releasing proven carcinogens into public drinking water resources:

Publicly reported results of DuPont and Chemours studies on Gen X toxicity “contain misrepresentations and factual misstatements that tend to understate Gen X’s potential for toxicity.” DuPont data show toxic effects in animals from short-term, subchronic and long-term exposure.

Gen X exposure to rats and mice prompted incidence of cancers at levels exceeding those detected in controls in the brain, liver, adrenal glands, pancreas and testicles. Gen X posed reproductive and developmental risks to lab animals, as well as toxicity in the liver, kidneys, the hematological system, adrenal glands and stomach. DuPont animal studies demonstrated an association between GenX and effects found from other PFASs, including changes in the liver, kidney, pancreas, testicles, and the immune system.

As is very often the case when "No potentially adverse effects to humans are known at this time" cases emerge, they knew damn well what those effects could be. Researchers have a fundamental responsibility to follow-up on their laboratory findings, to make sure management doesn't try to sweep stuff like this under the rug. I realize that's easy to say, and it's not my job on the line. But we've seen this happen way too often to just accept "I did my job properly, somebody else misused my findings." Here's more evading and equivocating from DuPont:

Adding insult to injury: Toxic pollution from Harvey off the charts

Every time a natural disaster occurs, this crap is soon to follow:

Damage from Hurricane Harvey may have released as much as 2 million pounds of potentially hazardous airborne pollutants from oil refineries and other facilities in the Houston area, according to regulatory filings submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

In some cases, the estimated amounts released vastly exceed legal limits — but the state agency can't confirm how many contaminants have been released because air-quality monitoring stations throughout the area were shut down prior to Harvey's landfall.

We're not just talking about gasoline-related issues; the location of these refineries also means Houston is a hub for all petrochemical byproducts, from various plastics to a smorgasbord of industrial chemicals. The word "nasty" doesn't even come close. And when you're talking about air(borne) pollutants, even a few thousand pounds is a lot of dangerous particles. 2 million pounds? That's catastrophe-level stuff. Just one of the culprits is Benzene, and it's likely making an appearance in several Houston neighborhoods:

More on Ken Rudo's damning deposition

It's no wonder Duke Energy wanted this information sealed:

North Carolina’s top public health official acted unethically and possibly illegally by telling residents living near Duke Energy coal ash pits that their well water is safe to drink when it’s contaminated with a chemical known to cause cancer, a state toxicologist said in sworn testimony.

“The state health director’s job is to protect public health,” testified Rudo, who has been the state’s toxicologist for nearly 30 years. “And in this specific instance, the opposite occurred. He knowingly told people that their water was safe when we knew it wasn’t.”

Hoo, boy. This is one screwup by the McCrory administration that's not going away anytime soon. And the timeline involved is damning in itself:

The ticking toxic timebomb perched on Randleman reservoir

Hazardous chemicals + bad management = a nightmare legacy:

State regulators repeatedly cited the company, formed by several Greensboro businessmen, for reckless practices that ranged from improperly disposing of hazardous waste sent there by a who’s who of corporate America — such as General Electric, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and Walt Disney World — to haphazardly storing 20,000 or more drums of chemicals, many uncapped or leaking.

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