State regulators to CFPUA: Waiting for EPA on water toxin concerns

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — State regulators are waiting to hear from their federal counterparts after reports of a toxin linked to cancer and other illnesses was found in the region’s drinking water supply.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority shared a letter this morning it received from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality about the discovery of a chemical compound called GenX found in the Cape Fear River and CFPUA’s treated water.

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“We certainly understand the public concerns surrounding this issue and are working with the EPA and others to better understand the chemical compound and any potential impacts it may have,” reads the letter dated Friday from Assistant Secretary for the Environment Sheila Holman.

Holman goes on to write that it is important for people to know that drinking water from CFPUA and other providers in the region “meets all state and federal drinking water standards.”

Click here to read the whole letter



For now, though, it appears state regulators must wait for the EPA to help figure out if there is a public health issue and what to do with it.

“The federal agency has extensive resources necessary to determine the nature, extent and potential impacts of chemicals such as GenX,” Holman wrote. “As such, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is awaiting guidance from the EPA that will provide our agency with the information needed to begin developing regulatory limits for GenX.”

Holman acknowledged “the regulatory process can sometimes take considerable time.” She said while it waits for the EPA, DEQ staff will work with Chemours, the company that makes GenX at a facility along the Cape Fear River near the Cumberland-Bladen county line, to see if they can reduce the amount of the chemical reaching the river.

Last week the StarNews reported on researchers finding GenX, a chemical replacement for a key ingredient in Teflon, in the drinking water system of the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.

Ares water systems have responded by saying their water meets all state and federal standards, but they will continue to monitor the situation.

Traditional water treatment systems appear unable to get GenX out of the water, but experts say reverse osmosis system, like the one H2Go wants to build in northern Brunswick County, could do the job. H2Go’s plan for a reverse osmosis plant, though, has recently faced obstacles, including a petition sent to county commissioners and the Town of Leland appealing a state permit for the project.

Meanwhile New Hanover County and Wilmington leaders plan to meet this week with representatives from Chemours and DEQ about the situation.