Environment

State environmental, health officials to meet today with chemical company about GenX in Wilmington drinking water

Areas shaded in blue receive water from the Cape Fear River, which is treated by the Sweeney plant in Wilmington. A new contaminant, GenX, has been found in drinking water supplies.
Areas in green rely on groundwater. (Map: Cape Fear Public Utility Authority)

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.

6 Comments


  1. leonard wright

    June 17, 2017 at 3:22 am

    This is totally outrageous. I don’t understand why the EPA would permit the dumping of chemicals from manufacturing processes into any river or stream without requiring contaminants to be removed. This is more so important since the Cape Fear river is the source for water down stream from Fayetteville. Information provided locally advised that reverse osmosis is the only method for removing GENX from the water.

    Why not require the manufacturer to use reverse osmosis prior to dumping this waste product in the river?

  2. John Bradley

    June 17, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Interesting tactics by DuPont. They don’t want to be bothered with the huge payoffs resulting from the poisoning of the local population so they simply setup a disposable company to manufacture the problem chemicals. When they lose the ensuing lawsuits, the new company simply declares bankruptcy and the same chemicals are then made by a new spinoff with a new name for both the chemical and the company. Who said there is no innovation left in US companies?

  3. funfundvierzig

    June 18, 2017 at 7:38 am

    From the perspective of the executive suites in Fortress Wilmington, Delaware, Chemours (Shamours) will do anything to keep its multi-$billion Teflon franchise intact to sustain hundreds of $millions in corporate Teflon profits and tens of $millions of annual bonuses flowing to into the pockets of the Management. So what if the costs may include several hundreds deaths and severe illnesses from their vile, cancer-causing Teflon toxins. Such is the ethically depleted culture.

    …funfun..

  4. Dale M Swiggett

    June 18, 2017 at 9:43 am

    $30 million CarolinaEast cancer center coming to New Bern
    By: WCTI Staff
    Posted: Nov 10, 2014 11:25 PM EST
    Updated: May 25, 2016 09:33 PM EDT

    NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY – Officials with CarolinaEast Health System announced Monday they will partner with UNC Cancer Care to build a $30 million cancer center in New Bern.

    The “leading edge” cancer center will be on built on CarolinaEast’s Neuse Boulevard campus, according to a news release from the health system. The center will put many cancer services being offered by CarolinaEast and the community under one roof. It will also allow for expanded and previously unavailable cancer services through the UNC Cancer Care collaboration, the release says.

    The new cancer center will cost about $30 million and is expected to take three years to complete, said officials. But there is no word on when construction will begin. Pictured above is an artist’s rendition of the facility.

    “The new cancer center supported by our wonderful local clinicians and enhanced by our collaborative efforts with UNC Cancer Care will make the journey to recovery much more navigable and make available specialists, protocols and clinical trials never before available in our region,” said Ray Leggett, president and CEO of CarolinaEast Health System.

    CarolinaEast says it will work closely with UNC Cancer Care to fill gaps in cancer care, decreasing the need for Eastern Carolina residents to travel to all the way Chapel Hill or the Triangle for treatment.

    Currently, the distance from CarolinaEast Medical Center to the North Carolina Cancer Hospital in Chapel Hill is 141 miles and will take two hours and 19 minutes to travel, according to Google Maps.

    The North Carolina Central Cancer Registry says six local counties (Craven, Jones, Carteret, Onslow, Lenoir, and Beaufort) are well above the state and national average for annual incidences of cancer. In those counties, 2421 people are diagnosed with cancer each year on average. The top four counties are Jones, Carteret, Beaufort, and Lenoir ( which is No. 2 in the state for the highest rate of cancer), the new release says.

    Those six counties are also above the state and national average for annual cancer deaths, with an average of 916 people dying each year, according to the N.C. Central Cancer Registry.

    In the entire state of North Carolina, there are 17,758 cancer deaths each year on average, based on data from the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control.

  5. Mike

    June 19, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    The southern states waive ‘regulations’ to attract companies like Dupont to come and take a crap all over the state. Guess what.. they are taking it on your kids and families in that part of the state that will get some kind of cancers in a few years.,

  6. Fred Stimsohn

    June 26, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    I live and work in Vermont. We must abide by not only EPA we also have a strict Vermont EPA. Believe me, the fines are tremendous for the mildest of infractions. The amount of paperwork we filed with the state require we hire one environmental specialist or consultant. We don’t like it, but at least this state is trying it’s best to prevent what is going on in your state.

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