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Energy & Environment

2 Charlotte sites part of latest fight to force companies to clean up PFAS

Charlotte_airport.jpg
Kevin Coles
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Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

North Carolina’s latest fight to force companies to clean up areas contaminated by what’s known as “forever chemicals” called PFAS includes two sites in Charlotte.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has filed lawsuits against 14 manufacturers of a common fire suppressant containing PFAS used by firefighters. He wants the manufacturers to pay to test, remediate, and restore areas with high levels of PFAS in and around Charlotte Douglas International Airport and the Charlotte Police and Fire Training Academy on the city’s southwest side.

"The reason we chose those locations is because that’s where the science told us that there is PFAS concentrations far in excess of what the EPA recommends for human consumption," Stein said.

Stein filed lawsuits which named 3M, Corteva, and DuPont, among others. PFAS are associated with serious health conditions, such as cancer. The lawsuits argue the manufacturers have known about the dangers of these chemicals and did not alert customers to the risks.  

The other sites are Stanly County Airport and Seymour-Johnson Airforce Base in the eastern part of the state.

Testing at the Charlotte Police and Fire Training Academy found PFAS compounds at 17 different on-site groundwater wells with levels up to 1,800 times beyond EPA’s level.

“Every day, we learn more about this toxic class of chemicals,” said Tom Brewer, president of Charlotte International Association of Fire Fighters Local 660, in the news release. “The research and data are clear – these deadly chemicals must be removed from the firefighters’ environment."

DuPont issued a statement saying it has never made AFFF and called the complaints “the latest example of DuPont being improperly named in litigation.” A 3M statement said the company acted responsibly with products containing PFAS and "will vigorously defend our record of environmental stewardship.”

Corteva did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency described PFAS on its website as widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time. Because of their use and persistence in the environment, PFAS are found in human and animal blood, and in low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment, the EPA says.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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