Federal grand jury declines to bring charges against Chemours regarding Clean Water Act

Updated: May. 19, 2020 at 4:40 PM EDT
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SOUTEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA, N.C. (WECT) - An investigation into the conduct of Chemours at its Fayetteville Works plant did not result in federal criminal charges.

That’s according to a quarterly financial filing released by the company, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina informed the company in March that a federal grand jury decided not to bring forward an indictment, and the company’s file was being “closed.”

It is not clear what exactly the Department of Justice presented to the grand jury, but Chemours’ disclosure confirms it was related to the Fayetteville Works location, and the Clean Water Act.

A spokesperson for Chemours declined to comment, but the quarterly filing reads: “The Company responded to grand jury subpoenas, produced witnesses before a grand jury and for interviews with government investigators and attorneys” regarding the matter.

Don Connelly, a spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon, said the office could not comment on the matter because of the nature of grand jury proceedings, but that the statement in Chemours’ financial document was accurate.

Just because the company won’t be facing federal criminal charges doesn’t mean the company is free of its many other legal issues regarding PFAS and Fayetteville Works, including the ongoing civil lawsuit with the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.

Vaughn Hagerty, spokesperson for CFPUA, said the utility couldn’t comment directly on the news about the grand jury, but confirmed CFPUA had submitted documentation to the U.S. Attorney’s office, and that the result does not have an effect on the utility’s ability to continue pursuing civil action.

“We provided the U.S. District Attorney and the Department of Justice with all information requested regarding CFPUA’s civil dispute with Chemours and DuPont, but we are not privy to their decision-making process on criminal matters," Hagerty said by email Tuesday. “Regardless, the Justice Department’s decision has no impact on CFPUA’s actions in our ongoing litigation against Chemours and DuPont.”

The disclosure about the grand jury comes roughly a month after the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality determined Chemours’ corrective action plan to address discharges of perfluorinated compounds (PFAS) into the Cape Fear River to be “deficient.”

CFPUA did weigh in on those proceedings, agreeing that Chemours’ plan submitted in December was not good enough.

“Overall, for the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on CFPUA for drinking water, we find this plan falls far short of the actions needed to meaningfully correct the damages done by Chemours and DuPont,” the utility’s comments said.

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