CFPUA board member recuses himself from GenX issue

CFPUA board member recuses himself from GenX issue
(Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Board Secretary Larry Sneeden recused himself Wednesday from any issues related to GenX in the water supply. Chairman Mike Brown said that Sneeden recently learned that his employer, AECOM, had done consulting work for Chemours, the company that dumped GenX in the Cape Fear River.

Sneeden made the announcement before the board voted to amend a contract with a lab that tests the water for the unregulated chemical. Brown said that Sneeden wanted to avoid a potential conflict of interest, even though he was not personally involved with the consulting work.

"He's a person of integrity and the reason we have these rules for recusal is so that our board members can avoid association with a conflict," Brown said. "So he recused himself to stay above the board and stay transparent."

Sneeden will not participate in discussions about Chemours or GenX, and will no longer vote on those issues. Brown said he will not attend closed sessions relating to either topic.

CFPUA to remove GenX from PeeDee Aquifer

On Monday, CFPUA announced plans to remove nearly 50 million gallons of water stored in the Peedee aquifer. The board approved $500,000 for the project Wednesday, which would remove water believed to be contaminated by GenX and other unregulated chemicals found in the Cape Fear River. CFPUA will pay an additional $50,000 to Catlin Engineering to remove the water.

"Though we think the ASR (Aquifer Storage and Recovery) well is limited to a small sphere of influence, we want to get that water out of the aquifer and dispose of it responsibly. Really just to protect our customers and protect the health of our region," Brown said.

Brown said customers have made it clear they want GenX removed from all water sources in the area.

Board approves amendment to water testing contract

The board voted to amend a contract with Eurofins Eaton Analytical for Lab Testing Services, which tests for GenX in the water supply. The initial contract for the service was $17,740. In July, the board passed an amendment for $17,260 for GenX testing.

On Wednesday, the board approved an additional $83,000 for GenX testing, bringing the total contract value to $118,000. Brown said CFPUA is appreciative of state-collected data, but more testing will benefit residents.

"I'm sure there will come a time when we back off from that, we're very conscious of the cost associated with that but we're going to keep doing that for the foreseeable future so that we have good data and are able to make informed decisions," Brown said.

CFPUA to partner with UNCW

The $100,000 service agreement will link CFPUA with UNCW's chemistry and marine biology departments, and assist CFPUA in evaluating current treatment processes.

Brown said that there have been a lot of questions about compounds in the water, and CFPUA wants to be proactive about that.

"One thing we've learned is that communication is key, information is key, putting that information in context is key, and communicating with the regulators is key," Brown said.

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