Chemours To Stop Providing Bottled Water To Some Residents With GenX Tainted Wells

Aug 15, 2018

Credit Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

The Chemours Company will stop providing bottled water to hundreds of residents whose well water has been tainted by the chemical GenX.

Chemours produces GenX and other per- and poly- fluoralkyl compounds at its plant on the Bladen-Cumberland county line. GenX is used to make non-stick surfaces.

The company dumped GenX into the Cape Fear River for years, contaminating drinking water for thousands of public utility customers downstream in the Wilmington area. Airborne GenX has settled in residential wells in the area surrounding the Chemours plant.

Residents whose wells have GenX levels at or above the state advisory threshold will continue to get bottled water delivered by the company. They also may accept the company's recent offer to install granular activated carbon filtration systems.

But starting August 23, people whose wells have contamination levels below that mark can no longer pick up water at the Chemours facility. Plant Manager Brian Long said Chemours is basing its decision on the state's non-enforceable, advisory health goal.

"The state believes, based on that 140 parts per trillion, that, there should be no adverse health effects that would be expected over a lifetime of consumption of water," Long said.

More than 400 properties have wells with GenX levels below the advisory threshold. State environmental regulators want Chemours to rethink its decision to stop handing out bottled water.

"Folks have been inconvenienced, their lives have been impacted by these perfluorinated compounds in groundwater," said Michael Scott, director of the Department of Environmental Quality's Division of Waste Management. "And simply having this as one additional means to obtain clean water just seems like the neighborly thing to do."

Also, Chemours continues to test private wells in an ever-widening circle around the plant to find the edge of the contamination plume. Scott said in some cases, resampling has shown contamination levels previously below the state advisory threshold had risen above it.

"Until we really finish up the nature and extent determination of groundwater contamination, let's reconsider this position on not providing bottled water," Scott said.

Plant Manager Long said Chemours will continue testing wells with detected GenX levels between 100 to 139 parts per trillion and will immediatly provide clean water in cases where those levels exceed the state health mark.

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