RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality announced Wednesday the water in seven more private wells in the Fayetteville area tested positive for GenX.
That brings the total number of private well owners to 26.
It comes on the same day that state lawmakers voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of House Bill 56, an environmental bill that, among other things, including some funding to study GenX.
“If we’re going to protect our water quality and if we’re going to stay competitive as a state, then we need these resources so that we can adequately address emerging chemical compounds,” said Michael Regan, NC Department of Environmental Quality Secretary, in an interview Wednesday with CBS North Carolina.
But the debate is far from over.
“I thought it was the right decision for the same reasons we passed the bill to begin with,” said Sen. Phil Berger, (R) Senate President Pro Tem.
“The way that it was broken up in the bill, I think, is just highly partisan and it doesn’t serve the purposes or the best interests of the citizens of North Carolina,” said Sen. Dan Blue, (D) Senate Minority Leader.
The bill, now law, gives $435,000 for some agencies, including UNC Wilmington, to study GenX.
The governor said the bill gave the impression of action while actually allowing the GenX problem to fester.
Republican Sen. Michael Lee, from Wilmington, explained why he thinks the bill needed to become law.
“What it’s going to do is it’s going to provide some funding so that we can explore new technologies in pulling these compounds out of the water source,” said Sen. Michael Lee, (R) New Hanover County.
“Our goal is to stay vigilant on this issue, stay focused on this issue and get the necessary resources,” said Regan. “North Carolina is like many other states who are trying to grapple with emerging contaminants.”
Many who get their drinking water from the Cape Fear are concerned. Then, there are those private wells.
CBS North Carolina asked Regan how much communication his office is having with Chemours, the company who told the state it discharged GenX into the Cape Fear River at its Fayetteville facility.
“We’re in communication with the company to ensure that they are providing us the information that we’re seeking,” said Regan. “We spoke with the company just yesterday so that they could come in and continue to provide information that we’re requiring as part of our ongoing investigation.”
As for the next steps, Regan said, “We’ll continue our investigation and be sure that we’re protecting the public from any harm while also looking at ways to address emerging chemical compounds in the future.”
Regan also said DEQ is setting up a science advisory board to help look into the matter.
The state departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services are holding a community information session Thursday from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. The goal of the meeting is to help residents understand test results and answer questions.
The meeting will be held at Gray’s Creek Elementary, located at 2964 School Road in Hope Mills.