Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Local leaders respond to GenX in drinking water

File photo

WILMINGTON — The recent revelation of the presence of the chemical known as GenX in the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s (CFPUA) water supply has prompted action from local leaders and government officials.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released a statement on the health effects of GenX Monday evening.

“There are no U.S. regulatory guideline levels for GenX. However, as part of the European chemical registration, a 2-year chronic toxicity and cancer study with rats was performed. They reported a Derived No Effect Level (DNEL) of 0.01 mg/kg bw/day. Based on U.S. risk assessment calculations, this corresponds to a concentration in drinking water of 70,909 ng/L of GenX- more than 100 times greater than the mean value of 631 ng/L detected in the Cape Fear River. Based upon these data, the GenX levels detected in 2013-2014 would be expected to pose a low risk to human health,” according to the report.

Brunswick County also released a statement on Tuesday that stated: “Brunswick County’s water system meets or exceeds all EPA and state standards regarding water quality.” The statement cited GenX’s 2-year evaluation by European authorities, noting the amount of GenX in Cape Fear’s water is less than 1 percent of what would be considered a risk for humans.

“Brunswick County takes seriously its commitment to providing safe, quality drinking water to its citizens and customers,” the release states. “Recent media reports have raised questions about the safety of Brunswick County’s water supply due to the presence of the chemical GenX in the Cape Fear River, from which Brunswick County draws portions of its raw water supply. Brunswick County Public Utilities treats raw water per federal and state standards before being supplied to the public for consumption and maintains a robust sampling and monitoring schedule to ensure its safety.”

New Hanover County has announced an ad hoc meeting with the Chemours Company and state officials Thursday morning, a time for the meeting has not yet been announced.

“Technical experts” from the Chemours Company will attend the meeting, along with representatives from New Hanover County, CFPUA, the city of Wilmington, Brunswick County, Pender County, and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

“This is not a public meeting and attendance is by invitation only,” according to a press release.

North Carolina’s District 18 representative Deb Butler has also issued a statement regarding GenX in the water supply.  Butler expressed her concern with the pollutant found in the CFPUA water supply and has requested a seat at the table during the county meeting with Chemours.

“As a long time resident of downtown Wilmington, I am also a customer of CFPUA and therefore, draw my household drinking water from the Cape Fear River as well. Like you, I have many questions and am anxious to receive answers and accountability from those responsible for polluting our river,” Butler said.

Dr. Kyle Horton, a candidate running for North Carolina’s 7th U.S. Congressional District has also responded to the incident and has planned a Rally for Clean Water on Thursday, 12:30 p.m. at Riverfront Park.

Dr. Bob Parr, a local emergency doctor will introduce Horton at the event, according to a press release.

The Chemours Company has agreed to allow one local pool reporter attend, the reporter will then share a full account of the meeting with all other local media.  There will also be a press conference immediately following the meeting, according to the release.

Information regarding the planned meeting and updates provided by the county can be found here.

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