Two new chemicals found in Cape Fear River

News_Sarah Purnell_Chemicals in Cape Fear River_wikimedia

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Sarah Purnell
Staff Writer

A new study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that two new chemicals have been discovered in the Cape Fear River.

The Cape Fear River has been under close examination after it was discovered that a chemical called GenX had contaminated the water. Chemours, a chemical company based in Delaware with a location in Fayetteville, North Carolina, leaked the chemical into the water, reportedly for decades according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

The Cape Fear River is a main source of drinking water for nearly 200,000 people living in the Wilmington area.

The EPA reported that the two other chemicals found included concentrations of PFESAs, also known as Nafion byproducts. The level of these chemicals has increased since the last water sample testing.

The three other perfluorinated compound chemical levels associated with GenX have decreased since banning Chemours from further discharging any chemicals into the river.

The health effects of these chemicals are still undetermined. According to WBTV, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Mandy Cohen explained that the agency is taking into account outside factors such as the number of cancer cases in the area.

“A metric she said shows no spike and indicates a preliminary comfort level in giving guidance to continue drinking the water,” said Cohen.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) made a statement to the chemical plant company urging them to take action on Tuesday, Aug. 29.

“Due to the estimated values for the two chemicals, the DEQ is requesting that Chemours immediately explore any and all options to reduce or eliminate the release of these chemicals into the Cape Fear River until the State of North Carolina can review available information related to these chemicals and properly evaluate potential health effects,” said Deputy Director of Division of Water Resources Linda Culpepper.  

The Winston-Salem Journal reports the legal actions North Carolina is taking in pursuit to halt the chemical plant company. According to the WSJ, the DEQ gave the company a 60-day notice before suspending their permit, preventing anymore wastewater from being released into the Cape Fear River without a permit.

“Now 48 million gallons of tainted water will have to be pumped and flushed into the sewer system and then into the river downstream of all drinking water intakes,” NC Policy Watch reported. “Officials will have to try to decontaminate the aquifer, possibly through pumping and flushing.”

People of North Carolina continue to look for more pressing and legal actions to be taken against Chemours in order to stop the chemical discharges.

Categories: News, North Carolina


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