October 23, 2017

Complaint Alleges a Five-Year-Old Water Heater Showed Levels of the Toxic Compound Higher Than the State's Health Goal

A Compass Pointe water heater is central in the latest GenX lawsuit.

After her initial shock at revelations about GenX in her water wore off, Victoria Carey, 58, decided to have her five-year-old appliance drained and samples taken of the sludge in the bottom.

Those samples, taken June 23 and tested by a private lab, showed levels of 857 parts per trillion (ppt) in the liquid portion of the sludge and 623 ppt in the solid. Both levels are higher than the 140 ppt health goal set by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

“It’s sitting in there and it’s piling up and it’s piling up, and as that water is coming through the faucet, you’re drinking it or whatever that chemical is that’s coming through the faucet and into your body,” said Carey, who lives in Leland. “This is scary, scary stuff.”

Carey’s class action lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, is at least the third of its kind filed against Chemours and DuPont, but the first one that points to evidence that hadn’t yet been in the public sphere.

Like the others, the suit says the chemical companies acted negligently and hurt property values. But Carey’s suit also calls for Chemours to remediate any properties contaminated by GenX and the associated chemicals, consider paying for alternative water sources on regional scale and fund diagnostic testing for the early detection of illnesses potentially caused by the companies’ alleged misconduct.

Ted Leopold, the lead attorney on the case, said, “This is clearly a very, very important issue to North Carolina and to these areas, in particular. And it’s important through these litigations to address corporate misconduct, and corporations have to take responsibility.”

Leopold, who works for Washington, D.C.-based law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, is also lead counsel for the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit claiming government officials in Flint, Michigan, created and then covered up a public health crisis involving the lead contamination of that city’s water.

When the GenX story broke in early June, Leopold, who lives in Florida, was visiting family in Wilmington. He quickly saw parallels to some of his other work.

“In terms of the contamination itself, the issues are very similar in terms of the harm created,” Leopold said. “In Flint, you have lead issues. Here, you have other toxins that create serious health hazards or the potential for health hazards.”

The full article can be viewed at the Wilmington Star-News.