When county leaders finally meet face to face Thursday with a chemical company manufacturing a compound recently found in the drinking water supply for thousands in southeastern North Carolina, it will be behind closed doors with no audio or video recording of what actually took place.
It came down to negotiations.
New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet says it's the best the county could get. There is no legal obligation for Chemours, located along the Bladen County line, to speak with county officials about the compound known as GenX, partly because it's currently unregulated by state and federal authorities.
A study published in November 2016 states little is known about the health effects of this compound and that it is not currently able to be removed from the water supply.
"In an ideal world, we'd like it to be an open meeting. But at the end of the day we had to negotiate a set of parameters in which the company would agree to meet with us," New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet said Tuesday.
In an editorial on Tuesday, WECT News General Manager Gary McNair argued a closed-door meeting for this is unacceptable.
County Commissioner Woody White responded with a post on Facebook.
WECT learned the negotiations regarding the format of the meeting took the better part of Monday to wrap up, with the agreement for one reporter with no recording devices to secure audio or video of the actual meeting. Attendees in the meeting have agreed to report their views of what was said behind closed doors at the conclusion of the meeting, but inflection and tone of the responses will be left up to interpretation.
Coudriet said public officials will hold a news conference after the meeting. Chemours officials will not participate.
"While we didn't get everything we hoped and expect for, I do believe that we have secured an opportunity for this to be very open and very transparent via one reporting source," Coudriet said.
County leaders intend to ask the following questions:
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