RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Federal prosecutors have declined to pursue criminal charges against a chemical company that for years discharged compounds with unknown health risks into a North Carolina river, the company disclosed.
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 by The Chemours Co., a spinoff of DuPont that has a plant near Fayetteville, WRAL-TV reported.
In 2017, it was found that Chemours was releasing a compound called GenX into the air and water near the plant, which eventually made it into drinking water sources including the Cape Fear River. GenX is an unregulated chemical that is used in nonstick surfaces such as Teflon. The EPA classifies it as an “emerging contaminant” needing research.
Chemours Co. told shareholders in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing released this month that prosecutors notified the company in March they were declining to pursue charges and were closing the case.
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 also faced lawsuits and a state investigation. In a consent order with North Carolina in 2018, it agreed to pay a $12 million penalty and $1 million for investigative costs, and to sharply reduce air emissions of GenX.