State environmental officials are “strongly encouraging” Chemours, the company that produces GenX, to reduce or eliminate discharges of the chemical into the Cape Fear River, until an investigation is complete, according to a DEQ press release issued today.
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority provides drinking water to 67,000 customers in Wilmington. Water from the Cape Fear goes to the Sweeney treatment plant, but current methods aren’t able to filter out GenX.
WWAY reported last evening that state environmental officials and coastal county and city leaders will meet this morning with Chemours Company. The meeting is not open to the public, but as WWAY reported, New Hanover County officials asked that a pool reporter cover the proceedings and distribute coverage to other media.
The Wilmington Star-News originally reported the presence of the contaminant in the Cape Fear earlier this month.
GenX is known as an emerging contaminant because the EPA has not fully studied its health effects nor acceptable exposure thresholds. 1,4-dioxane, which has been detected in the Haw River, is also an emerging contaminant, as is hexavalent chromium, which is both naturally occurring and present in coal ash.
DEQ says also pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to provide regulatory guidance on GenX.
A relatively new chemical, GenX is used to make Teflon and other products. It replaces C8, which the EPA and DuPont phased out after a class-action lawsuit indicated that the chemical was linked to cancer. (Chemours is a spinoff company of DuPont.)
Fayetteville Works manufactured C8; it now makes GenX. Effluent from the plant containing the chemical flows into the Cape Fear.
As The Intercept reported in March 2016, two EPA scientists were suspicious that GenX was similar to C8, not only in its use, but also its toxicity. Tests in lab animals shows that GenX caused the same health problems as C8.