State hosts information session on well sampling near Chemours

SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - The NC Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Health and Human Services hosted an information session in Robeson County Thursday for those interested in the state's plans to test private wells near the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility.

The community asked state officials questions about the state's plans for testing. Eligible residents also will be able to sign up to have their wells tested.

"I mean [Chemours has] destroyed more than our property values," Hubert Parker, a Cumberland resident, said. "They've destroyed our trust. How do you trust somebody like that?"

Parker's residence is one of over 40 properties the state will test in its preliminary look at areas surrounding the Fayetteville plant.

State officials plan to start collecting test samples from residential wells near the Chemours facility on Friday as part of an ongoing investigation into GenX, an unregulated chemical discharged into the Cape Fear River by Chemours.

"People in this community deserve to know about the safety of their well water and we're working to get them answers," said Michael Regan, secretary of the NCDEQ. "Thursday's meeting will give people who use these wells an opportunity to learn more about the well sampling process and next steps."

The testing comes after last week's testing results were released, which revealed groundwater wells on Chemours property exceeded health recommendation goals for GenX concentration. The 14 wells tested are not drinking wells. Instead, they are used for environmental work, but DEQ warned nearby residents at the meeting they are not in the clear.

"There's always a concern when you have high levels of a contaminant in groundwater whether it's moved off site," Sheila Holman, NC's assistant secretary for environment, said. "So the purpose of the testing of the private wells is determining whether those concentrations are showing up in the private wells."

State officials must have a resident's permission to conduct testing on a private well. The test samples will be taken to Gel Laboratories in Charleston, S.C., for analysis of GenX, PFOA and PFOS, which were detected in preliminary test results from the industrial wells at the Chemours' facility.

Chemours said it will conduct its own testing on properties within a mile radius of its property. The tests results will come back in two to three weeks.

Following last week's consent order with the state, Chemours also said it would "immediately prevent" the discharge of Nafion byproducts 1 and 2 (also called PFESA compounds) for the immediate future until a permit is filed. Holman said DEQ does not have the updated numbers on the PFESA compounds, but those should come back in two to three weeks.

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