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NC Legislators Mull What To Do About Chemicals In Rivers

Cape Fear River at Raven Rock State Park NC
Keith Weston
File photo of the Cape Fear River. Earlier this summer, the EPA identified two more chemical compounds discharging into the river.

A special house committee met Thursday in Raleigh to discuss the discharge of unregulated chemicals into the Cape Fear River - but the committee heard more questions than answers about potential health effects.In June, it was revealed the Chemours plant in Fayetteville had been discharging the unregulated chemical known as GenX and other compounds into the Cape Fear. The contaminants ended up in the drinking water for more than 200,000 people in the Wilmington area.

State Epidemiologist Zack Moore told the committee that health officials do the best they can to set advisory thresholds for such chemicals. He said the compound made at the plant might be hazardous to humans, but there's been too little research to know for sure.

"So, in addition to not having health information on which to base any kind of health goal for these compounds, we also have limitations that were mentioned earlier in terms of our ability to accurately quantify how much is present in the water,” Moore said.

Chemours has been ordered to stop the discharge, while state environmental officials pursue legal action against the company.

Moore says the chemical is just one of many chemicals without studies showing how much is safe or how much is floating in waterways.

Legislators may vote next week to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of legislation to treat GenX in the Wilmington area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rusty Jacobs is a politics reporter for WUNC.
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