LUMBERTON — Robeson County residents may have been among those offered filters that can remove GenX and related chemicals from their drinking water.
“Our private drinking water well sampling program has involved residences in Robeson County and other counties,” Lisa Randall, a Chemours spokesperson, said in an email. “GAC (granular activated carbon) systems are being offered to all owners in the program who met the eligibility criteria. To respect owners’ privacy, we are not providing more specifics about the numbers and locations of the eligible owners.”
The offer of filtration units is a response to the leaking of GenX and other potentially harmful chemicals from Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility located on N.C. 87 at the Cumberland/Bladen county line.
Letters were mailed July 16 to area residents whose drinking water wells tested above the state provisional health goal of 140 parts per trillion for GenX, Randall said.
“Chemours has received a number of inquiries about our offer to install and maintain whole-house granular activated carbon filtration systems for qualifying homeowners whose drinking water has tested above the state provisional health goal of 140 ppt for HFPO-Dimer Acid (GenX),” according to a company news release. “Preliminary work is already underway with those homeowners who have requested installation of GAC systems.”
Each whole-house GAC unit costs about $10,000, but each unit is being offered at no cost to the recipient.
“Chemours will pay to install, test and maintain the whole-house GAC units for qualifying residents,” Randall said.
The company also is offering secure under-the-sink, single tap reverse-osmosis treatment units, she said.
“The single-tap reverse osmosis units are being offered as an interim alternative to bottled drinking water for qualifying residents who choose to wait for more information,” Randall said.
Chemours is working with the interested homeowners to enable the purchase of the single tap units, she said.
“DEQ (N.C. Department of Environmental Quality) has consistently encouraged us to be as responsive as we can to the concerns of the community, and we are doing that,” according to the Chemours release. “In our community meeting, we heard about our neighbors’ displeasure with bottled drinking water, so we’ve voluntarily made these offers to give them additional options. The offers are unconditional and we are allowing ample time for qualifying homeowners to evaluate their options.”
The Robeson County Health Department has tested 27 wells in northeast Robeson County for GenX. One of the wells tested above the state GenX limit and another far above the limit for GenX and a related chemical combined. Twenty-five of the wells tested positive for some amount of GenX.
The Robeson County wells are within three to four miles of the Chemours plant. The Lumber River basin reaches within one mile of the plant.
Robeson County residents were not among the people asked to participate in a program to test blood and urine for traces of GenX and other chemicals.
Health officials began almost two weeks ago calling selected residents near the Fayetteville Works facility to invite them to participate, and residents with private wells that had the highest detections of GenX during sampling were to be contacted first, according to Kelly Haight, a N.C. Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson.
The state Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and health officials from Bladen and Cumberland counties are going to test the blood and urine of up to 30 residents living near the Chemours facility for the presence of GenX and 16 other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, according to Haight. The purpose of the testing is to determine if PFAS can be detected in the blood or urine of area residents, and if so, how their levels compare to levels detected in other parts of the country. The samples will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control for testing.
“Participation is limited to no more than 30 people based on CDC testing capacity,” Haight said in an email. “Each household will be limited to no more than one adult participant and one child participant. Individual results will be shared with participants, and summary results will be shared with the public without participants’ private information.”
GenX, or PFAS, replaced an earlier generation chemical that resulted in a multi-million dollar settlement at a DuPont plant on the Ohio River. DuPont reformulated the chemical and later spun off the facilities into Chemours in 2015.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]