Cooper turns attention toward water quality statewide

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A week after Governor Roy Cooper visited Wilmington to discuss the state's investigation into GenX, the governor returned to the Cape Fear area on Monday to tour the Pender County Water Treatment Plant and reiterate steps the state is taking to limit exposure to the unregulated chemical.

While touring the plant, Cooper said his focus expands beyond the Cape Fear area.

"Now that we know we aren't going to allow GenX in the water, I think our attention is turning to protecting water across the state and to analyze these other compounds that may be in the water," Cooper said.

The research conducted by Dr. Detlef Knappe found six chemicals in the Cape Fear River similar in structure to GenX. There are no authentic chemical standards set for the six other compounds.

Statewide focus on water quality means the governor may call on state legislators for help. Cooper outlined a few law changes he may introduce to the General Assembly.

"We may determine with water quality that we may need different standards than the federal government might set," Cooper said. "Maybe requiring companies to provide more information that they may have that they may consider is protected information but that government ought to have."

Cooper echoed statements he made in a press conference in Wilmington last Monday, including his intentions to prevent the Chemours Company from discharging GenX and asking the EPA to take a closer look at a federal consent order granted to Chemours. The consent order does not require Chemours to capture wastewater containing GenX if the chemical was produced as a byproduct.

County utility employees walked Cooper through steps they take to gather samples from the drinking water and send them off to the Environmental Protection Agency for further testing.

"We are hoping that steps (the EPA) take can help us set health levels for compounds that may be out there," Cooper said.

As Cooper wrapped up his tour, he was met outside by two protestors. The pair said they came out to keep an eye on the governor, much like the governor wants to keep an eye on companies like Chemours.

"I really just want to make sure his attention stays on and that he is aware that we are paying attention to him," Rebecca Stuttz said. " We are watching and making sure he is doing something to help us out here."

The governor also announced the chartering of a science advisory board to focus on GenX and other chemicals in the water.

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