WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Dozens of concerned community members gathered at Cape Fear Community College on Tuesday to hear the latest on the state of their drinking water, and the GenX investigation.
Dr. Larry Cahoon, a UNCW professor, started the meeting with an update on research pertaining to GenX and other chemical compounds found in the water, air, and soil across the region.
Cahoon told the crowd, “There is a lot left to learn” about GenX and other compounds discharged into the Cape Fear River at the Chemours Company’s Fayetteville Works plant.
Ted Leopold, an attorney working on a federal class action lawsuit against Chemours and Dupont, updated the audience about the status of the lawsuit.
Leopold brought up the consent order filed before Thanksgiving, which would require Chemours to pay a $12 million fine and provide safe drinking water to those living around the Fayetteville Works plant.
He said the order was a step in the right direction, but that few people will be helped by the consent order and the goal is to ensure the hundreds of thousands affected have fair compensation.
“I think it’s the beginning and it’s a good step by the DEQ, and Chemours and DuPont should be commended for starting the process but the example I gave tonight is this is a marathon," Leopold said. "This is the first few steps of a very long race and very few people are going to be helped in any way by this. Our goal and our responsibility is to make sure everyone, the hundreds of thousands who have been affected, and over 200,000 homes and the filtration systems that are effected, are provided a full measure of justice and provided clean water in their homes and for the health and safety of them as individuals.”
Many who attended the meeting were curious about the health impacts of GenX and other chemical compounds. Cahoon and Leopold said it is too early to know effects the compounds cause on humans, but there are things concerned community members can do now.
“A lot of people come to these events who have health related issues and they’re not sure if the contamination of the water has caused their problems," Leopold said. "We don’t have a crystal ball but we do know that certain pieces of education such as their medical records, their history, how long they’ve lived here, how long they’ve drank the water, how long the toxins have been in the water, how long Chemours and DuPont have contaminated the water, the number of years of dumping this stuff into the Cape Fear River. If you put all those things together, sometimes it leads to the right answers that a lot of these physical problems and health related issues are a result of the conduct of DuPont and Chemours.”
He compared the process to a marathon, but is urging everyone in the area to save receipts pertaining to safe drinking water or health expenses.
“Everybody who has to pay out of pocket for their bottled water or their health issues, potentially, depending on how the litigation goes, can be reimbursed appropriately for those out of pocket expenses,” Leopold said.