Environment

Week 4 of GenX sampling shows further decreases of chemical in drinking water

The NC Department of Environmental Quality yesterday released the results of the most recent sampling of drinking water contaminated with GenX.  Those results show that “finished water” — essentially what flows to people’s home faucets — in five treatment plants in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties have levels of the chemical below 140 parts per trillion. That is the health goal set by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The levels ranged from a low of 29 ppt at Wrightsville Beach Well No. 11 to a high of 110 ppt at the NW Brunswick and Cape Fear Sweeney plants. The Pender County plant recorded levels of 100 ppt. For comparison, 1 ppt is equivalent to one drop in 18 million gallons of water.

At the Chemours outfall where the wastewater leaves the plant, the levels of GenX were 3,300 ppt. This result likely reflects the fact that the most recent sampling, conducted on July 12 and 13, coincides with when Chemours informed DEQ that higher-than expected levels of GenX were still leaving the plant upstream in Fayetteville. Chemours had reportedly stopped discharging the chemical altogether. But on July 12, DEQ inspectors found other spots where wastewater was being discharged. Those areas have since been closed. Chemours is now holding the plant’s wastewater in tanks, then shipping it to a hazardous waste incinerator in Arkansas.

More results from additional sampling are expected to be available next week. DEQ says it will continue sampling treated water in the Lower Cape Fear “for the foreseeable future.” The EPA lab in Research Triangle Park is conducting the analysis.

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