UN-appointed human rights experts express concern over Chemours’ ‘blatant disregard for human rights and environmental protection’

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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A group of independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council sent a letter to Chemours in September expressing alarm at “the company’s blatant disregard for human rights and environmental protection.”

Chemours has admitted to dumping forever chemicals, also known as PFAS, into the Cape Fear River for years, contaminating the drinking water supplies of hundreds of thousands of people.

In April, Clean Cape Fear and the University of California, Berkeley Environmental Law Clinic submitted a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Committee calling for:

(a) Notice of special procedures in the form of a complaint to DuPont and Chemours, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

(b) prepare a report on the environmental human rights violations of North Carolinians by these organizations;

(c) Press releases and press conferences to raise public awareness of the toxic exposure crisis motivating these interventions.

In late September, the Special Rapporteur sent letters to Chemur, DuPont, Corteva, the United States and the Netherlands.

In its interactions with Chemours, the group expressed several concerns about the company’s actions as well as the EPA and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

“Without prejudging the accuracy of these allegations, we have the deepest concerns about the human rights and environmental impacts of DuPont and Chemours’ activities at their Fayetteville plant, particularly the release of toxic PFAS into the local environment. ”, the letter states. “We are particularly concerned about DuPont and Chemours’ apparent disregard for the health of local residents who have been denied access to clean and safe water for decades. This is particularly evident in the deliberate suppression and concealment of information regarding the toxic properties of PFAS.

“We are also concerned that DuPont and Chemours have not fully accepted their responsibilities and adequately addressed the negative impacts their activities have on communities in the Lower Cape Fear River. We remain concerned that the conduct violates the rights of local residents, including the right to life, the right to health, the right to a healthy, clean and sustainable environment, and the right to clean water.”

“Additionally, health and environmental regulators are failing to meet their obligations to provide the public, particularly North Carolina’s affected communities, with the type and amount of information necessary to prevent harm and seek redress. We are also concerned about the lack of enforcement and corrective action in cases where legal action has been taken against both companies. EPA, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and courts These deficiencies undermine community members’ rights to information and effective remedies.

“We are further concerned by companies’ blatant disregard for human rights and environmental protection. DuPont and Chemours, despite having information about the harmful effects of PFAS on human health Both companies continued to spread disinformation about PFAS. DuPont and Chemours knew that their releases of FAS into the environment contaminated local drinking water sources, making people sick and sometimes fatal. However, both companies continued to manufacture, sell, and profit from PFAS.

“We are also very concerned that DuPont and Chemours are contributing to the global PFAS contamination problem with the persistence of these toxic synthetic chemicals.”

The group asked Chemours to address 12 “issues” within 60 days.

In a response letter dated Nov. 21, Chemours said it was trying to correct “certain misperceptions” about Chemours and its Fayetteville plant.

“Our efforts are in five key areas: (i) reducing process water discharges of PFAS to the Cape Fear River; (ii) comprehensive measures to prevent stormwater and groundwater discharges of PFAS; (iii) Installation of best-in-class air pollution control equipment to significantly minimize air emissions of PFAS. (iv) Extensive program to provide clean drinking water sources to affected populations. (v) scientific research to advance the PFAS knowledge base,” the letter states.

Clean Cape Fear released the following statement on Friday:

“We are grateful to the United Nations for taking action on behalf of Clean Cape Fear and all residents in the region who have suffered decades of human rights violations related to the PFAS contamination crisis.” – said Emily Donovan, co-founder of Cape Fear. “Clearly, the United Nations recognizes that international law is being violated in the United States. I think that’s very concerning.”

You can read the full letter below.

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