North Carolina legislature adjourned until May 16 without resolving the debate between the House of Representatives and Senate over House Bill 189, which seeks to address concerns surrounding Wilmington area drinking water contaminated by the potentially cancer-causing chemical GenX.
The original House bill would have appropriated $1.3 million to the state Department of Environmental Quality to purchase equipment to detect GenX and other potentially harmful chemicals, and would have hired five scientists. It was unanimously approved by the House on Jan. 10, but Senate leader Phil Berger wouldn’t allow a Senate vote.
On Feb. 9, the state Senate revised the bill to direct the DEQ to instead borrow the equipment from the federal Environmental Protection Agency or the University of North Carolina system.
Additional revisions stipulate that the DEQ would no longer consult with Gov. Roy Cooper’s Secretaries’ Science Advisory Board on health goals and instead would work with UNC’s North Carolina Policy Collaboratory, whose research director is a former science advisor to Sen. Berger.
The Senate version would also allocate $2.4 million to the DEQ this year to conduct multiple studies, but that would be cut from their budget next year along with an additional $1 million. The revised bill awaits House approval.
As of Feb. 12, GenX had also been found in four wells near a Chemours facility in Parkersburg, W.Va. — By Hannah Gillespie