In the News

Public Learns of Cape Fear River Toxins, 11 Years Later

The Fayetteville Observer

March 27, 2018

Part 3 of the story behind GenX: Traces of Industrial chemicals started turning up in water tests years ago, but
it wasn’t until 2017 that the public realized what they were drinking.

Larry Cahoon remembers the moment he learned that his tap water was spiked with a cocktail of potentially toxic chemicals.

As a leader with the Cape Fear River Partnership, he was moderating a small panel discussion last May about a recent study he read. It said scientists had found chemical contaminants at an unnamed public utility that draws water from the Cape Fear.

Was it a nearby water system? he asked.

The study’s co-author, Detlef Knappe, set him straight: It was Wilmington’s water system. The contamination is in the water that Cahoon and thousands of other people had been drinking for decades.

In February, a bill advanced that would allocate $2.4 million to DEQ, with $813,000 for collecting air and water samples.

Some critics want to take the ultimate step — shutting down Chemours. Wilmington city officials, New Hanover commissioners and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority have become so fed up with the company that they have approved resolutions demanding that the plant cease production of GenX and all other related and unregulated compounds.

“Chemours has had multiple opportunities to control sources of the compounds, but has shown an inability to do so,” Jim Flechtner, executive director of the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, said in an email. “With this resolution, CFPUA is simply asking the State to enforce what it has stated many times — that these compounds do not belong in the Cape Fear River.”

Read Public Learns of Cape Fear River Toxins, 11 Years Later.