Mount Vernon Mills Commits To Permanently Cease The Use Of PFAS
The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) announced on Friday that Mount Vernon Mills has committed to permanently stop using PFAS at this textile mill by the end of 2023. In the meantime, the company has taken steps to significantly reduce the amount of PFAS it is sending to Trion’s wastewater plant by diverting its internal process waste stream for offsite treatment.
Located on the Chattooga River, Mount Vernon Mills discharged wastewater polluted with per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the municipal wastewater treatment plant in Trion, Georgia. Because Trion’s wastewater plant cannot remove the chemicals—known as “forever chemicals” because of their persistence in the environment—the plant’s sludge and wastewater has contaminated the Chattooga River watershed with PFAS for the past several years.
Last year, SELC, on behalf of Coosa River Basin Initiative, sent notices of intent to sue both Mount Vernon Mills and the Town of Trion alleging violations of the Clean Water Act and federal laws prohibiting PFAS pollution.
This week, Coosa River Basin Initiative, together with Mount Vernon Mills, Inc. and the Town of Trion, have jointly moved for a Consent Decree that will, if entered by the Federal District Court, resolve a civil enforcement lawsuit brought by SELC on behalf of CRBI against the Mill and Trion. Under its terms, Mount Vernon will permanently end the use of PFAS in textile operations at the Mills’ Trion facility.
“Over the past several years, we have monitored the PFAS problem in our watershed with increasing concern,” said Jesse Demonbreun-Chapman, Executive Director of Coosa River Basin River Initiative (CRBI). “Throughout this process, CRBI’s goal has always been to sit at the negotiating table and find a solution that would truly be protective of the Chattooga River and Weiss Lake”
PFAS are a class of thousands of synthetic chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, and GenX, and are known to be toxic and associated with serious health impacts. These contaminants do not dissipate, dissolve, or degrade but stay in water, soil, and our bodies for many years. Growing research links PFAS exposure to public health risks, including liver cancer, testicular cancer, liver damage, and thyroid disease.
(SELC press release)