WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The NC Department of Environmental Quality said late this afternoon its staff will begin sampling the water in the Cape Fear River today for GenX, which has many people worried about the safety of the area’s drinking water, according to a news release from the state agency.
DEQ staff will sample at 13 locations this week and will continue collecting samples for analysis in the same locations for the next three weeks. Today, DEQ staff in the Fayetteville regional office are collecting water samples at the Chemours plant that produces GenX during industrial processes, the Bladen Bluff intake and their finished water, and a water supply well in Bladen County.
On Thursday, DEQ staff in the Wilmington regional office plan to sample the Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority’s intake, the International Paper intake, the International Paper finished water, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s finished water, the Pender County public utility’s finished water, the Brunswick County public utility’s finished water, the Cape Fear Public Utility’s Aquifer Storage and Recovery well, and the Wrightsville Beach water supply well.
Officials are waiting three days between samples because that is the estimated travel time for the Cape Fear to flow the 70 miles from the Chemours plant in Fayetteville to the downstream river intakes near Wilmington. Officials are trying to sample similar water parcels in the two areas for a more consistent and representative analysis.
DEQ staff, in consultation with state Department of Health and Human Services, are investigating the presence of the unregulated compound known as GenX that was detected in the Cape Fear River.
State environmental regulators will collect the water samples and will send those to two laboratories capable of detecting GenX in water at low concentrations.
The state believes the completed results will be back from the laboratory in Colorado within four weeks from when the samples are received. But multiple rounds of testing and analysis will be necessary for a meaningful evaluation of the water quality. Samples also will be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency’s lab in the Research Triangle Park. Officials have not yet determined a timeline for when analysis from the EPA lab would be completed.