NC legislature considers bill addressing GenX

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Ensuring all North Carolinians have safe drinking water is an issue before state lawmakers.

Many in parts of North Carolina are questioning if their drinking water is safe after news this summer that a company, Chemours, had discharged GenX into the Cape Fear River.

Now, state lawmakers returned to Raleigh Wednesday for the start of a special session and House lawmakers worked on a bill that would provide some money to the issue.

But some question how the bill will be received in the Senate and are critical of how long it has taken to get to this point.

“We are staring at the tip of a spear and smart folks will marshal their resources to get out ahead of this thing,” said Rep. Deb Butler, (D) New Hanover County.

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Rep. Billy Richardson, (D) Cumberland County, said his constituents are asking “what’s taking so long? They have a legitimate gripe. Why is it taking us this long to react to this major problem?”

State leaders announced last summer that Chemours had been discharging GenX, an unregulated compound used to make Teflon, into the Cape Fear River.

Dozens of homeowners around the plant continue to receive bottled water.

The pending legislation would reallocate money to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

“The proposal that we’re sending is actually consistent with what DEQ asked for,” said Rep. Tim Moore, (R) House Speaker. “DEQ asked for $2.3 million I think is the figure. That’s what our bill does.”

Some of that money would go to new machinery, including a mass spectrometer to identify emerging contaminants.

As for the Senate, CBS North Carolina asked State Senator Michael Lee, a Republican from New Hanover County, about how the Senate would receive the funding aspect of the legislation.

“Anytime you talk about appropriations, it depends on what it’s for,” said Lee. “If there was a dollar amount that could just completely solve the issue today, that might work. But, we really need to see what they’re proposing, what the dollars are and if it’s something that we think would be effective.”

Lee said there are several studies taking place and lawmakers hope to have those reports by spring.

The legislation cleared the House Appropriations Committee and was being debated on the House floor as of Wednesday night.

The House unanimously passed the bill Wednesday evening.

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