GenX remains in focus nearly one year later, multiple bills filed

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s been almost a year since we learned about GenX in the Cape Fear River.

The StarNews headline about GenX in the Cape Fear River caused ripples around the region.

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“Protecting the environment should be rule one before we incentivize and allow these corporations to come in here and do what they’re doing,” New Hanover County Chairman Woody White said.

A lot has happened since the region first learned about the chemical in the river.

“So I look back on the last year and I see tremendous accomplishments and tremendous improvements, but still so much has to be done moving forward,” White said.



Thursday in Raleigh there was action.

In an effort to get more answers, and address the needs of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Environmental Quality, Representative Deb Butler, a New Hanover County Democrat, filed House Bill 968.

However, the GenX plan more likely to come up for vote came a short time later — a compromise from Republicans.

After failing to reach an agreement last winter, North Carolina legislative Republicans from our area have worked out a plan to fund research and clean up efforts for chemicals like GenX.

Senators Michael Lee and Bill Rabon and Representatives Ted Davis, Holly Grange, Frank Iler and William Brisson filed identical bills in their chambers Thursday.

“It’s one that I don’t think compares well,” Butler said. “Puts money in the hands of what’s called a collaboratory instead of the watchdog agencies that really have the power to stop polluters. So again, these folks in the general assembly have had a veto proof super majority well before GenX. If they had wanted to do something aggressive they could have, but ironically they filed it hours after I filed mine.”

The Republican bills earmark $12 million for GenX, $8 million of which will go to UNC for research on emerging contaminants.

It also gives Governor Roy Cooper the option to shut down the Chemours plant company responsible for the discharge.

It’s a move Butler thinks is a setup.

“When they give him a grant of authority, look behind the curtain and see what the true objective is,” Butler said.

The Republican bills would also make Chemours provide water to the homes with private wells that were affected and funding for the Department of Environmental Quality to hire additional staff.