Seventy-five is such a sad, lonely number

Numbers can tell us a great deal. They can show us positive trends and offer us frustrating results. Tuesday gave us the latter.

Let’s take a numerical journey through the numbers of the Chemours created GenX crisis facing folks from Cumberland County down the Cape Fear River to Wilmington.

According to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, about 1,000 private wells have been tested for the chemical compound produced by the Chemours plant in Bladen County and used to coat cookware. Of those, about 225 wells have tested positive for GenX above the state’s health limit of 140 parts per trillion. Another 500 or more showed traces of GenX below the 140 ppt.

If our math is correct, that means there are at least 725 private well owners in the region who have some degree of GenX in their ground water. So when the state held its fifth community forum on Tuesday, in St. Pauls for the second time, we would think the St. Pauls Middle School’s auditorium would have been bursting at the seams with people wanting information and answers to questions.

They weren’t.

From all reports, only about 75 people showed up — and we feel comfortable saying that not all of those were private well owners who already knew GenX was in their wells.

So where was everyone?

It’s a sad commentary when such a serious health concern like the GenX crisis can generate such a low number of concerned residents at a community forum. Much like elections and local school or municipal meetings, people seem to prefer being apathetic and ignorant rather than informed and vocal.

Are most residents growing weary of the GenX saga? Sure. But if something like chemical contaminants in our drinking and recreational waters, as well as in the air we breath and potentially causing any number of health problems isn’t enough to bring people to a meeting like Tuesday’s, then what does it take?

We applaud those who have continued to stay involved in the process and plan to see it through to a its resolution, but it appears the number of those willing to do that are dwindling. We know there are a lot more who are mad as H-E-double-toothpicks at Chemours, frustrated with the state and highly concerned about the possible health effects this crisis will ultimately have on them, their family and the area — yet they aren’t staying involved in the fight.

The crisis is far from over. In fact, we feel certain we’ve seen only the tip of the iceberg where the effects of GenX are concerned. Solutions seem to be underway, but the chemical cat was out of the bag long ago. So we urge folks to stay angry and remain vocal.

We all expect our elected officials to fight for us, but this is a situation that begs for residents to stand shoulder to shoulder with them during that battle. We should all know there is strength in numbers.



“You must show up and get involved to have an impact. No one is impressed with the won-lost record of the referee.” (Napolean Hill)