RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina agency leaders were met with question after question from lawmakers about how the compound known as GenX went undetected in the Cape Fear River for years.
Thursday was the first meeting of the General Assembly’s committee on North Carolina River Quality.
“A lot of the topic is very scientific in nature, so it really required us to spend some time to get to know the issue,” said Rep. Holly Grange, a chair of the committee.
The day-long meeting of the newly formed committee was filled with presentations and questions.
Lawmakers heard from the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Environmental Quality, and scientists from UNC Wilmington and Duke University.
“Back several years ago for a lot of these compounds you couldn’t measure in parts per trillion because the technology wasn’t even good enough to measure that much of a trace level,” remarked committee member Rep. Scott Stone.
The compound GenX, a byproduct produced by the Chemours facility in Fayetteville, is being continuously monitored in river water, underground water in wells, and most recently the air.
“We are now working with the company to gather all the emissions data as well as characteristics of the emissions’ discharge points. So is it coming from a stack, is it coming from a vent?” explained Sheila Holman, assistant secretary for environment at the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.
According to Holman’s presentation, Chemours has been producing GenX since 2009.
More testing needs to be done to determine if there are side effects for people exposed to the compound, and if there is an acceptable level of exposure.
While no decisions were made Thursday, lawmakers proposed closing loopholes that allowed Chemours to release GenX in the first place.
“There’s a big question mark there and I think in looking forward we need to find out where the gaps are and make sure they don’t exist in the future,” said Grange.