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Environment

Cumberland County Considering Legal Action Against Chemical Company For Water Contamination

File photo of a protest sign in front of Chemours' President of Fluoroproducts Paul Kirsch during a community meeting hosted by the chemical company Chemours at Faith Tabernacle Christian Center in St. Pauls, N.C. on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
Ben McKeown
/
WUNC
File photo of a protest sign in front of Chemours' President of Fluoroproducts Paul Kirsch during a community meeting hosted by the chemical company Chemours at Faith Tabernacle Christian Center in St. Pauls, N.C. on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners is hiring an outside law firm as they consider legal action against Chemours.

On Monday, county commissioners unanimously voted to hire a law firm recommended by the county attorney. At a news conference afterwards, officials explained that they want funding from Chemours to build a public water system that would alleviate GenX contamination.

Chemours is an American chemical company that was founded in July 2015 as a spin-off from DuPont. The state of North Carolina sued DuPont and Chemours in 2020, accusing the firms of knowing the dangers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that were produced at a factory in Bladen County.

Cumberland County has been in talks with the chemical company for the past 18 months, but they haven't been able to reach agreement regarding money for the water system.

County Attorney Rick Moorefield says GenX, a toxic manmade chemical, has been found in hundreds of wells that provide drinking water in southern Cumberland county.

“Ultimately, the sooner we can get a public water system in place, the better opportunity the county will have to remediate this - what probably is a very serious public health issue,” Moorefield said.

County Manager Amy Cannon hinted that so far, talks with the chemical company have not been successful.

“We've been in discussions with Chemours for about 18 months and had hoped to be able to resolve it to our mutual satisfaction,” Cannon said. “At this point we believe the next step is to hire a legal team to assist us in funding.”

The project is estimated to cost around $64 million.

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