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Editorial: “Public outrage” required to get legislative leaders to act on GenX pollution

[1]The lead editorial in today’s edition of the Wilmington Star News [2] does a fine job once again of calling out the shameful inaction of state legislative leaders in addressing the GenX water pollution crisis.

After laying out more details of what appears to be a growing public health emergency, the editorial concludes this way:

“But don’t fret — the General Assembly is all over it. When Gov. Roy Cooper asked for an extra $2.6 million — out of a $23 billion budget — to shore up the state’s understaffed water-quality agency, the Honorables more or less told him to get stuffed.

Instead, they gave $185,000 to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, $250,000 to UNCW, and then washed their hands of the problem — maybe with bottled water.

We hope the money will help in some way with GenX, but it’s far too little and does nothing for the folks in Cumberland and Bladen counties, where much more than GenX is turning up in the water. The Cape Fear River, meanwhile, is one big chemical-laden mess.

‘GenX is only a small fraction of the total level of fluorochemicals that we have found in the river, and the other levels are some times 50 to 100 times higher,’ said N.C. State’s Detlef Knappe, an expert on chemical contaminants.

In the Greensboro area, a compound called 1,4 dioxane — used in commercial solvents — is being discharged into the Cape Fear River watershed. Knappe found levels 100 times higher than what the EPA considers safe.

‘I think we … have to ask harder questions when we issue permits for industrial discharges,’ Knappe told WRAL-TV in July. ‘If we know we’re making byproducts and we don’t know what they are, then it’s pretty irresponsible to just discharge them into a river …’

But that’s the situation we find ourselves in. And the General Assembly’s leadership has shown no sense of urgency in responding.

The people of North Carolina deserve better. But we know Berger/Moore & Co. are not going to listen to Gov. Cooper or leaders in his administration.

It looks like residents will have to demand action. We’d suggest they do so — and with a strong dose of outrage.”