Why a closed door meeting over a public health concern?

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - 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.

RELATED: My turn: Chemours closed-door meeting should be held in open setting

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:

  • What were the conditions under the TSCA consent order granted to DuPont relative to the manufacturing, processing and distribution of GenX?  Is there an order associated with Chemours use of the chemical compound?
  • Were there any limitations under the consent order in regards to discharge of GenX?
  • What, if any, responsibility for use of the compound remained with DuPont? Or did it all transfer to Chemours?
  • Why did Chemours install abatement technology when it did?  What does it do?  If it was intended to recover or recycle GenX, why is it still showing up in the water?
  • How long does GenX last in water?  Does it stay in the same chemical form? Does it sit on the bottom of the river?
  • Did Chemours know it was discharging GenX before it installed abatement technology?
  • What systems are in place to routinely monitor discharge of GenX into the water?  Did monitoring continue after the installation of the abatement technology?
  • Do you have data that demonstrates reduction in the discharge of GenX since the abatement technology was installed?
  • Do any permits held by Chemours allow for the discharge of GenX into the river?
  • Is Chemours currently discharging GenX into the river?
  • What other materials are being discharged into the river? Are all items regulated?
  • Is there a cumulative measure of how much GenX was discharged into the river before abatement technology and since?
  • Does DuPont and/or Chemours have health and safety data on GenX and any potential health risks to the drinking water supply at different levels of concentration? Describe the toxicology of the impact to the body.
  • Does Chemours or DuPont know of any certainty or method to filter or otherwise remove GenX from the water supplies?
  • What is Chemours doing right now today and in the future to stop any GenX discharge?
  • What are Chemours and DuPont doing to advance clean-up of GenX in the water supply as of now?
  • Has DuPont and/or Chemours received any type of notification from any regulatory body involving the discharge of GenX?  If so, what are the details of this/these notification(s)?
  • Have any local governments made DuPont and/or Chemours aware of their concerns regarding the discharge of GenX?  If so, which local governments?

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