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Managing GenX Contamination

On May 17, North Carolina House Democrats and House and Senate Republicans filed separate legislation to address the emerging contaminant GenX. The proposals differ in funding allocated to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

House Bill 968 offers the NCDEQ over $14 million, while Senate Bill 724 proposes more than $1.3 million for the agency. Both bills would address the department’s permitting backlogs.

GenX is a fluorinated chemical compound used by companies like Chemours (a subsidiary of DuPont) to manufacture products such as food packaging, cleaning products, GoreTex fabric and non-stick pans.

On May 9, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Board approved new water treatment methods for its Sweeney plant in Wilmington, N.C., to prevent chemicals like the potentially cancer-causing GenX from infiltrating municipal water supplies.

Upgrading the plant to the new granular activated carbon treatment system would take about two years and require customers to pay a 7 percent increase in total water and sewer bills — costs that the utility hopes to recoup through litigation against Chemours, the manufacturing plant tied to GenX contamination around Wilmington.

Between August 2011 and February 2018, similar filters were installed at drinking water wells in West Virginia and Ohio near a Chemours facility; sampling has shown the filters to be effective at removing GenX-related chemicals from the water. In April, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the compound was found in wells near the Petersburg, W.Va., Chemours facility. ­ — By Hannah Gillespie

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2018 — June/July

2018 — June/July

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