Erin Brockovich and Robert Bowcock have been fighting for people to have access to clean drinking water for decades.
Unfortunately, that fight is just as important now as it was in 1993 when Brockovich began her crusade against companies contaminating water sources.
On the UNCW campus Wednesday night, Brockovich and Bowcock hosted a forum on GenX, an unregulated compound that was discharged into the Cape Fear River by the Chemours Company at its Fayetteville Works site.
Hundreds of people attended the event, some of them lining up as early as 4 p.m. for 6:30 talk. They heard Brockovich and Bowcock cover a number of topics related to chemicals in the Cape Fear and Bowcock said his extensive work in water resource management leads him to believe the NC Department of Health and Human Services estimated GenX health goal of 140 parts per trillion is false.
"There is no safe level, zero, for all the PFC, period," Bowcock said of perfluorinated chemicals near the end of a question-and-answer period at Wednesday's forum. "One hundred and 40 is meaningless. ... States are taking it upon themselves. Apparently, that's what's going to have to happen. I don't like it, but that's what's going to have to happen."
The lack of any political representation on the local, state or national level was brought up, but Brockovich said she would have welcomed an opportunity to talk with city, county or state leaders.
She was clear however that she wouldn't want those discussions to become shouting matches.
"We're going to have to re-look at some legislation, at some policies, and those things are very important," Brockovich said. "But the politics and that infighting is something that I don't want to happen here. It doesn't matter. Everyone needs clean water."
As helpful as it can be to talk about GenX and the quality of our drinking water, one of the people who attended the forum said he thinks the time has come to do more than discuss the issue.
"I haven't seen a lot of action on the part of the state and local government," Philip Gerard said. "I mean, I think there have been a lot of good intentions, but we need some action. We also need some real clarity as to how dangerous or how safe this water is. No one seems to have that very crucial answer."
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