Brunswick Co. woman to testify before Congress about GenX


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) —  A little more than two years after we first learned about GenX in our drinking water, a Brunswick County woman is headed to Washington, DC to have her concerns heard.

This is Emily Donovan’s second time testifying before Congress. In 2018, she spoke at the first ever Congressional hearing on per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS like GenX.

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Donovan says her family and many of her friends have been plagued by unusual health issues over the past few years. One of those people is Tom Kennedy. He was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, something he says doesn’t run in his family. After going through treatment, it spread to his brain and bones.

“I have an eight-year-old and a 15-year-old daughter and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to walk them down the aisle. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to see them off to college,” Kennedy said. “I don’t know if I’m ever going to see grandchildren.”

Kennedy has stage four cancer. His diagnosis is terminal.

“Is it too late for them to fix this contamination? I don’t know if it’s too late for them or not, but it’s too late for me,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy isn’t alone. Kara Kenan is a breast cancer survivor, and says her family has been dealing with odd medical issues. Both her parents were diagnosed with blood cancer, and then her father fought bladder cancer.

“To see so much disease and cancer in my small little family that we’re all in this one little neighborhood, it’s startling,” Kenan said.

Kenan lives in the Mallory Creek area, along with Emily and David Donovan. David has also been dealing with health issues.

“Started losing vision in my right eye, and thought I was just getting old, needed glasses,” Donovan said. “And went and found out through finally going to get an MRI that I had a lesion behind my nose.”

David’s tumor was removed and found to be non-cancerous, but it sparked his wife Emily to take action. She believes these health issues are not just a coincidence, and says she can’t help but wonder if GenX and other PFAS in our water are to blame.

Donovan will be testifying before congress on Wednesday.

“I just want to raise awareness and let congress know that the story of DuPont and Chemours chronic contamination of our drinking water supply is not okay, and in the last two years of discovering about this contamination, congress hasn’t done anything to correct any regulations,” Donovan said.

The state did fine Chemours $13 million and is forcing them to reduce their chemical emissions, but Donovan believes more legal action is necessary.

The CDC reports that PFAS in the human body can increase the risk of cancer. Chemours says they are continuing to work towards further reducing PFAS emissions to air and water.

Donovan will be bringing a petition to Washington, DC which already has more than 900 signatures.

Click here if you’d like to sign.