By Greg Barnes
North Carolina environmental groups are outraged over the Chemours chemical corporation’s plans to expand its Fayetteville Works plant in Bladen County.
Chemours announced in a statement Tuesday that it will hold two public information sessions on plans to expand its manufacturing capabilities at the plant, which sits just over the Cumberland County line.
The planned expansion would “support an increase in domestic production in the semiconductor, transportation, clean energy, consumer electronics, and communications industries,” according to the statement.
Little more is known about the expansion plans because the company said it will not provide interviews before the public sessions.
Chemours has been under a consent order since 2019 to clean up decades of per- and polyfluoroalkyl contamination — also known as PFAS or forever chemicals — that have been emitted from the plant into the air and the Cape Fear River. The contamination has affected thousands of people from Cumberland County to the coast. Many will no longer drink the tap water from their homes without filtration.
“Chemours’ decision to propose this plan when so many still lack safe drinking water due to its reckless handling of toxic chemicals shows where its priorities lie,” Geoff Gisler, a senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in an email.
Chemours is expected to provide more details of its expansion plans at the two public sessions. The first one is set for 5 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 20 in the Bladen Community College auditorium in Dublin. The second is scheduled for the same time the next day at the Leland Cultural Arts Center.
At least until then, Chemours will remain mum on specific details of its proposed expansion, company spokeswoman Lisa Randall said in an email.
So people won’t know whether Chemours plans to produce more PFAS at the plant, although production of semiconductors and electronic components typically contain the forever chemicals. People also won’t know how many jobs will be created and the average wage of those jobs, or how Chemours plans to keep surrounding areas safe from pollutants.
Sharon Martin, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Quality, said Chemours has not submitted applications related to its proposed expansion to the DEQ.
“DEQ remains focused on the immediate need to address the PFAS contamination from Chemours and its impacts to North Carolinians throughout the Cape Fear River basin and the continuing