Four groups hosting GenX meeting Dec. 3 at Tar Heel Middle  |  Bladen Journal

TAR HEEL — A national advocacy group is a primary host among four sponsors for a meeting here Dec. 3 regarding GenX.

Friends of the Earth, an international organization founded 50 years ago, is listed as a sponsor along with Columbus County Forum, Democracy Green and the Center for Environmental Health. A flyer for the event says the goal is “Bringing our communities together to learn and discuss the long-term effects of GenX on our health and our communities.”

The meeting will be held at Tar Heel Middle School at 6 p.m. One of the residents from the area affected by GenX familiar with the event said the meeting will be in a town hall-style format.

Next week’s gather is being held in close proximity to the Chemours plant which has been under the microscope since June 2017 when the StarNews newspaper of Wilmington was first to report contamination of the Cape Fear River by GenX. Since then, the company has made changes to include pouring $100 million into a process to help reduce the effects of GenX, a court order has been signed between three parties to include Chemours, and residents in the area have been left puzzled and worried about what harm has already been done and may be in the future.

The effects of GenX on humans isn’t fully known. State regulation has been evolving.

GenX is a trade name for C3 dimer acid, a compound used in the manufacture of products such as food packaging and nonstick coatings. It’s also a byproduct of certain manufacturing processes. HFPO-DA, an acronym for hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid, is another name for the member of a family of chemical compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

GenX is considered the safer alternative to C8, a compound the company no longer makes. DuPont, of which Chemours is a spin-off company, in December 2005 was fined $16.5 million by the EPA for failing to report C8’s substantial risk to human health and in February 2017 settled a class-action lawsuit involving water contamination in the Ohio River Valley by paying out more than $670 million.

Chemours is in the process of erecting and getting online a $75 million facility that will house a thermal oxidizer, calcium flouride system and cooling tower. The project includes an additional investment of $25 million for ongoing work until the thermolysis and water treatment is online.

A consent order signed by Judge Douglas Sasser in February is between Chemours, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and Cape Fear River Watch. The consent order says the thermal oxidizer is supposed to be in place and operational by Dec. 31. The machinery is designed to remove contaminants from the air.

Chemours is responsible, per the judge’s order, for providing any public building that qualifies with either “under-sink reverse osmosis drinking water systems at each drinking fountain and sink that is used for drinking water or another effective system or equipment.” Chemours has six months to provide a remedy when this happens, which it did earlier this fall when Gray’s Creek Elementary School students and their parents were informed of low levels of GenX detected in October tests.

Alderman Road Elementary School, another in the Cumberland County system, was also tested and there was no detection.

Last week it became known from reporting by the Fayetteville Observer that a well about nine miles from the plant on the eastern side of the Cape Fear River had GenX contamination. The test results are from a private well near N.C. 53.

Another part of Sasser’s order says Chemours will test private wells for 12 PFAS compounds, including GenX. Findings of those chemicals can mean Chemours expands the testing by one-fourth of a mile.

Tests have extended about nine miles northeast and five miles southwest of the plant, and more densely within about three miles, published reports say.

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