The GenX news in the region continues to get worse, as additional testing within an ever-expanding radius around the Chemours property shows more and more private wells and water sources contaminated with the chemical.
Chemours, located just off N.C. 78 at the Bladen and Cumberland counties border, uses GenX to make nonstick coatings on cookware. It’s a relatively unknown chemical insofar as its effect on the human body — but early tests do show it has caused cancer in animals.
Bladen County residents, both those already affected by a contamination and those fearing they could be next as testing continues, justifiably want answers to a myriad of questions. Some of those questions have no answers, since the chemical is so new.
But one thing those who are on the front lines of looking for those answers — including the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and the Bladen County Board of Commissioners — already know is that Chemours is at the root of the contamination and should be doing more.
So far, officials with Chemours have been relatively mum since the discovery of GenX contamination first came to light back in June when the chemical was found in the Cape Fear River. It’s almost as if they are operating under the threat of “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
And speaking of court, at least three anonymous callers to our office have inquired as to why the local Board of Commissioners — or anyone, for that matter — haven’t yet filed a lawsuit against Chemours. A valid question and one we hope will be addressed soon.
For now, Chemours seems content to do only what the state has forced them to do, which so far is to provide bottled water to families whose wells have tested positive for GenX and to widen the testing area.
At this point, a total of 248 wells have been tested, with 85 above the health standard of 140 parts per trillion. Another 103 have tested below the health standard and the remaining 60 showed no detection for GenX.
But GenX is only part of the problem. According to most associated with the current investigation, there are another 23 or more discharged chemicals showing up in ground and surface water sources.
Residents from Bladen County and extending down the Cape Fear River to Wilmington have been vocal about the fact that the state hasn’t moved quickly enough. But state officials with the DEQ are taking steps to rescind Chemours’ permit to dump wastewater into the river — prompted by an unreported chemical spill in October. That suspension of the permit could take effect late this week.
There are also plans by the state to refer its findings to the State Bureau of Investigation to allow for any potential criminal charges to be filed against the company.
Still, we think residents are correct in the fact that things are moving far too slowly and that far too little is being done to accommodate their daily water needs. Running county water lines to the affected residents is a no-brainer but will take up to a year, and short-term solutions still fall short for those residents’ needs.
So here’s a thought: We know that Bladen County supplies Chemours with its water. Shut it off. Until the company can start acting like a good corporate neighbor, why should this county supply water to a company that, in return, deposits chemically-contaminated wastewater back into our land without so much as an attempt at being apologetic?
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We should always follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can and show people that you care.” (Lou Holtz)