Chemours testing private wells for PFAS compounds as legal battles continue

Chemours continues to send letters to residents in the local area to determine if they are eligible for private well water testing.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 5:36 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Chemours continues to send letters to residents in New Hanover, Brunswick, Columbus, and Pender counties to determine if they are eligible for private well water testing. That testing for toxic PFAS compounds, including GenX, has been underway in the region since a consent order was first issued in 2019.

Chemours, the company responsible for spilling PFAS compounds into the Cape Fear River, is responsible for conducting the testing and identifying residents who may be eligible for replacement drinking water supplies like water bottles or filters.

The current order requires Chemours to test for 12 PFAS and provide replacement options if they are found to be above a certain level. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality asked Chemours to expand the testing to reach further down the Cape Fear River in 2022.

Cape Fear River Watch Executive Director Dana Sargent says the current testing process does not go far enough.

“I think what it should look like is a heck of a lot more, a heck of a lot faster,” Sargent said. “It’s Chemours’ responsibility to make sure that people understand that they’ve contaminated their water and that they do what’s right to filter that water as fast as possible.”

NCDEQ says GAC filters or reverse osmosis systems are replacement options available for those with drinking water containing a higher-than-allowable level of PFAS. Those filters would be installed under each sink in the house. Sargent says this is insufficient.

“It’s not enough. We’ve learned so much since [the consent order] was signed in 2019. We know we have at least 300 PFAS coming from that facility in our water and Chemours needs to provide whole-house filtration, not under-sink RO’s,” said Sargent. “Whole-house filtration or municipal hookup to every well owner in the lower Cape Fear and up near the facility.”

Sargent wants to see something done about other water sources that could be contaminated.

“The under-sink reverse osmosis systems don’t cover your showers or your baths,” said Sargent. “They don’t cover watering your gardens. We know this stuff gets taken into our produce. They don’t cover your swimming pools, your ice machines in your refrigerators and your drinking water filters in refrigerators. This is exposure our community can’t handle.”

There are several lawsuits against Chemours for its role in contaminating the drinking water in the Cape Fear River.

“Once eligibility is determined, testing is usually able to be completed within the week, with lab results returning in approximately 30 days. If a resident is eligible for (and informs Chemours of their decision to pursue) a drinking water mitigation solution, the solution is typically able to be installed within a few days, based on resident availability and the completion of a property inspection,” said a Chemours spokesperson.

f you have any questions or want your well sampled, you can call Chemours at (910) 678-1100. Messages to the Chemours call line are monitored during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.); Chemours should respond within 24-to-48 hours starting on the next business day.