July samples reveal increased GenX levels in water

July samples reveal increased GenX levels in water
(Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority issued a timeline of testing for GenX in the water system and one of the samples that came back in July is above what the NC Department of Health and Human Services recently deemed acceptable.

A July 10 sample revealed a GenX concentration of 145 parts per trillion, which is more than the DHHS' updated health goal of 140 ppt released on July 14. GenX is an unregulated chemical that was discharged into the Cape Fear River by the Chemours Company at its Fayetteville Works site.

While the concentration of GenX are higher, CFPUA Director Jim Flechtner said there is no reason to be too alarmed.

"We have discussed it with the state to figure out what it means and what does it mean for our customers," said Flechtner.  "They are comfortable there is no risk posed to our customers because of that one time exceedance that is within the margin of error of testing, and it was such a small amount that it really did not pose a health risk."

CFPUA made it clear in an email Wednesday night that the July 10 sample was taken when GenX was being discharged into the river.

Chemours said on June 21 it would voluntarily stop discharging GenX into the Cape Fear, and on June 27, the NC Department of Environmental Quality verified Chemours had stopped.

However, the NCDEQ said on July 12 that additional sources of GenX were still being discharged into the river from the Chemours site after June 27.

One day later, the DEQ again said discharges of GenX from Chemours had stopped and one day after that, the department released its updated health goal of 140 ppt or lower.

Here is the timeline released by the CFPUA:

On June 26, Eurofins -- an independent laboratory contracted to conduct tests on CFPUA water samples -- began testing samples from the Sweeney water plant in Wilmington. The testing has remained in effect, and is in addition to independent testing efforts that have been underway at the direction of NCDEQ and other regional utilities.

On June 27, NC DEQ verified that Chemours had stopped discharging GenX wastewater.

On July 11, CFPUA reported the first water sample results from Eurofins independent testing. They are as follows:

  • June 26: 156 ppt
  • June 28: 120 ppt
  • July 30: 90 ppt
  • July 3: 55 ppt
  • July 5: 87 ppt

On July 12, NCDEQ confirmed additional sources of GenX were still being discharged into the Cape Fear River after June 27 from the Chemours industrial complex.

On July 13, NC DEQ confirmed that the discharging of GenX from the Chemours complex had ended.

On July 14, NC DHHS released a health goal advising that GenX concentrations in drinking water at or below 140 parts per trillion (ppt) is a level based on conservative metrics that represent the concentration of GenX at which no adverse health effects would be anticipated over an entire lifetime of exposure to the most vulnerable members of the population.

On July 14, NC DEQ released results from samples collected from the Sweeney plant on June 22, June 29, and July 6. The data reveals concentrations of GenX trending downward with the July 6 results at 87 ppt.

On July 19, CFPUA received tests for samples taken last week. The results are as follows:

  • July 7: 132 ppt
  • July 10: 145 ppt
  • July 12: 122 ppt

On Wednesday, the CFPUA shared the updated test data from independent study results with Wilmington, New Hanover County, NCDEQ, and NCDHHS officials.

The CFPUA said independent testing by Eurofins will be increased from three random samples per week to daily sample testing and that it will share future sample tests with the public as soon as they are available.

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