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NCDEQ Secretary Elizabeth Biser meets with local leaders in southeastern North Carolina on PFAs concerns

State and county leaders addressed the recent ads by Chemours
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 10:31 PM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Chemicals dumped into the Cape Fear River were the topic of conversation when Secretary Elizabeth Biser with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality came to town on Tuesday afternoon.

Local leaders were given the chance at a meeting with Biser and staff to voice their concerns over clean water in southeastern North Carolina.

State and county leaders addressed the recent ads by Chemours, the company that is responsible for dumping chemicals into the Cape Fear River, calling themselves “good neighbors”.

“Despite their ad campaign that makes them look like great neighbors, we know that they haven’t always been,” said Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover). “So we are going to hold them to account.”

The DEQ told leaders and the community that they are working desperately to protect the health of residents in southeastern North Carolina.

An effort behind that is to build a new barrier wall along the Cape Fear River.

They say the plans for the wall are over 90% complete. It is proposed to be 6,000 feet long, and will stop groundwater from running into the Cape Fear. For the system to keep running, it will be required to remove 99% of PFAs from the water, or it will have to be reevaluated.

“The groundwater is going to be treated to remove at least 99% of the PFAs present,” said Biser. “Then it will be discharged into the river after it’s been treated.”

The battle against these forever chemicals has been an ongoing one for nearly five years, and county leaders said Tuesday that Chemours has had long enough to clean up its mess.

“I wasn’t aware that good neighbors stand idly by while others spend tens of millions of dollars trying to protect themselves from that mess,” said New Hanover Commissioner Deb Hays.

Another resource was brought up in the meeting in the fight against the chemicals; the state could be getting over $1 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.

Money that could potentially be used toward resources to clean up the river.

“We’re going to continue on our path of making sure that the drinking water is safe,” said Biser. “And really making sure we are enforcing the consent order to make sure we are protecting the health and environment of North Carolina.”

Secretary Biser also told local leaders that the state plans to enforce the consent order with Chemours, forcing the company to clean up the damage it’s created across southeastern North Carolina.

As part of that consent order, over 8,000 private wells around Chemours’ Bladen County Plant have been tested for potential chemicals in the water.

Of those 8,000 tested, 6,000 wells are eligible for free filtration from the company under the basis of the order.

For more information on the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality’s efforts, click here.

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