Feds Close Cape Fear River GenX Pollution Case

Feds Close Cape Fear River GenX Pollution Case

Federal prosecutors will not pursue criminal charges against a chemical company suspected of polluting the Cape Fear River with GenX, AP reports

The chemical plant is The Chemours Co., a division of DuPont based in Fayetteville. In June 2017, the Department of Environmental Quality discovered that Chemours was releasing a compound called GenX into the air and water surrounding the plant. Eventually, the compound flowed into the Cape Fear River. GenX carries potential health risks.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Environmental Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Justice Department were investigating potential violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Chemours told shareholders in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing released this month that prosecutors notified the company in March that they were declining to pursue charges and were closing the case.


GenX is a chemical used in nonstick surfaces such as Teflon. The EPA classifies it as an “emerging contaminant” needing research, and has previously said animal studies suggest it can affect organs. 

Chemours said that during the course of the review, it met with prosecutors, responded to subpoenas and sent witnesses to testify before a grand jury and to be interviewed by government investigators. 

The company has faced other lawsuits and state investigations in connection with GenX-related health risks. In a consent order with North Carolina in 2018, Chemours agreed to pay a $12 million penalty and $1 million for investigative costs, and to sharply reduce air emissions of GenX. The company also agreed at the time to conduct studies of the health risks associated with GexX being released into the environment, as well as other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. 

The EPA announced last year it would create a plan to help communities with monitoring and detecting PFAS pollution, though critics insisted more aggressive action was needed.