DEQ, DHHS and CFPUA all Taking Steps to Address GenX in Wilmington’s Drinking Water

By Karl Amelchenko on June 19, 2017

On June 16, 2017, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) Board of Directors met to discuss the presence of GenX in the Cape Fear River, and what steps should be taken. The board unanimously passed two resolutions: (1) Chemours should remove the compound entirely from the Cape Fear River; and (2) CFPUA will be permitted to take legal action should this request not be honored.

On June 16, 2017, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) Board of Directors met to discuss the presence of GenX in the Cape Fear River, and what steps should be taken. The Board unanimously passed two resolutions: (1) Chemours should remove the compound entirely from the Cape Fear River; and (2) CFPUA will be permitted to take legal action should this request not be honored.

In addition to calling on state and federal regulatory agencies to close any loopholes that may allow Chemours to release GenX into the water, CFPUA Board Chairman Mike Brown requested a third-party, independent review of CFPUA’s connection to the 2013-2014 North Carolina State University study confirming the presence of GenX in the Cape Fear River. The board appointed environmental attorney Robin Smith and Jennifer Adams, a chemical engineer, to conduct this review and report their findings directly to the public.

In the meantime, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is leading the state investigation related to GenX in the Cape Fear River. DEQ has urged Chemours to identify any steps that can be taken to reduce or eliminate the discharge of GenX into the Cape Fear River from its plant in Fayetteville, until the state completes its investigation.

State environmental regulators are collecting water samples from the Cape Fear River with the intention of sending the samples to a laboratory for analysis. The laboratory where the water will be tested has indicated that the first test results will likely be available four weeks from the date the samples are received, but that additional time will be required for a more comprehensive evaluation of the water quality.

Currently, there are no U.S. regulatory guideline levels for GenX in drinking water. According to their website, DEQ has contacted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is the lead agency responsible for establishing drinking water standards, seeking information about GenX. It’s clear by the bustle of activity that this is an issue many different governmental agencies view as critical to the safety of the citizens of North Carolina.