NC lawmakers hear from researchers about GenX

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – It’s no secret many people are alarmed by the potential impact of GenX in the water.

On Thursday, the House Select Committee on North Carolina River Quality met at the General Assembly to hear directly from researchers and state officials dealing with the issue.

“I’m telling you Mr. and Mrs. Public have been scared,” said Rep. Jimmy Dixon (R-Duplin).

When it comes to the chemical compound, GenX, there’s a lot that’s still unknown.

“My goal is not to create panic,” said Dr. Detlef Knappe, an N.C. State University Environmental Engineering professor who is studying GenX. “I have not gone out to the residents and said you have to stop drinking the water.”

But Knappe also said he is recommending residents get a reverse-osmosis-type filter that goes beneath the sink to help remove any chemicals.

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The state is studying it, as well.

“We are dealing with some complex chemistry,” said Sheila Holman, assistant secretary for Environment with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

At the committee meeting, there were plenty of audience seats left and four of the dozen committee members were not there.

CBS North Carolina reached out to those lawmakers and their assistants said each had a previous engagement, some out of state, planned long before the meeting was scheduled last week.

State lawmakers learned about the private wells being tested for GenX near the Chemours plant. Right now, the state says 34 private wells had GenX levels above safe standards.

There also is this week’s decision by DEQ not to suspend the company’s wastewater discharge permit.

“I think it’s important to note that Chemours continues to meet the partial consent order that is the diversion of the waste streams containing GenX,” said Holman to CBS North Carolina. “We’ve done some more internal sampling to make sure those waste streams have been captured.”

For many in the Wilmington area, they say it’s tough not to worry.

“We’ve already kind of started down the wrong path,” said Kemp Burdette, Cape Fear Riverkeeper, who is based in Wilmington. “We need to be talking about how can industry treat their waste before they discharge it.”

The state also is testing the water of two schools near Chemours, Alderman Road Elementary and Gray’s Creek Elementary School.

Those results should be in soon.

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