Last week the NC House unanimously passed legislation that would have allocated 2.3 million dollars to address the growing GenX pollution problem in North Carolina. Senate leader Phil Berger has vowed that this bi-partisan bill would not make it to the Senate. Meanwhile, as Senator Berger scoffs people in North Carolina cannot drink their water. It’s crystal clear that Senator Berger prioritizes big polluters over the health of the people of North Carolina.
Phil Berger is either breathtakingly ill-informed about the pollution problems threatening residents of the Cape Fear River Basin or he just doesn’t care that residents’ health is imperiled by pollutants that are likely to cause cancer. There isn’t much gray area between those possibilities to explain why the state Senate leader shut down a House bill last week that would have ramped up state efforts to track and study GenX and other chemicals that have leaked, flown or been dumped from the Chemours plant on the Cumberland-Bladen county line.
The legislation that would have added $2.3 million to fund the state’s response to GenX pollution and other water quality issues passed the House unanimously on Wednesday. But Berger quickly called it a do-nothing measure that “unfortunately does nothing to prevent GenX from going into the water supply.” Berger said the time to talk about appropriating money is when testing that was ordered last summer is completed.
In saying that, Berger sidesteps reality. Last summer, it was believed that the GenX issue primarily affected residents in the Wilmington area whose water appears to have been contaminated by GenX and other related chemical compounds for at least several decades. Since then, state regulators have discovered that GenX and other “perfluorinated” compounds haven’t been confined to the wastes that Chemours — and DuPont before it — have dumped into the river. The chemicals also have leaked into the water table and become airborne, leaving the plant premises on wind currents. Public and private wells in the plant’s vicinity have been found polluted with GenX, and every time the testing radius around the plant is expanded, more of it is found. Just last week, one Bladen County private well was tested and found to have a GenX level of 4,000 parts per trillion, more than 28 times the state’s provisional health goal.