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PAY UP: Lawmaker wants Chemours to buy equipment to rid drinking water of toxic chemicals

Updated: Mar. 26, 2021 at 5:44 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover) says its time the company responsible for releasing toxic chemicals into the Cape Fear River pays up. She’s the primary sponsor of a bill that would require Chemours to pay for equipment used to remove PFAS.

“That means they would be required to pay for this $50 million granulated carbon system that the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is implementing,” Rep. Butler says.

Butler says as it stands, customers of Cape Fear Public Utility Authority would end up paying for the technology to remove the toxic chemicals. Rep. Butler says her proposed legislation is a statewide bill that would make any manufacturer responsible for putting PFAS in the water supply liable.

Rep. Butler knows she’s in for a fight.

“I am under no delusions. It’s going to face some uphill battles because let’s face it — there are big forces, big corporate forces, who will be vehemently opposed to it,” she says. “But that’s okay. We need to have this dialogue. I promised the citizens of New Hanover County that I was going to fight for clean water. And so, while I recognize that there are folks who will try to undermine this bill, I’m still going to file it.”

The Chemours Company has come under fire for years for polluting the Cape Fear River with GenX.

Chemours built a thermal oxidizer facility that shows it destroys PFAS air emissions at an average efficiency greater than the state’s mandate of 99.99%.

Rep. Butler is the primary sponsor of the bill that would require the company pay for the equipment needed to remove the toxins. Secondary sponsors include representatives from Greensboro, Charlotte and Fayetteville. She was unsuccessful in getting support from Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover). Rep. Davis, who serves as senior chairman of the House Special Select Committee on River Water Quality, declined her offer to co-sponsor the bill.

“Clean water is fundamental to life,” Rep. Butler says. “Everybody who lives needs clean drinking water. And, how dare they contaminate the public trust resources? They did it for generations and I believe that they knew it. Rate payers should not have to pay for removing this PFAS from our drinking water. It’s not healthy. We’ve got to get it out of there and Chemours should pay for it.”

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