The Pender County Commissioners, County Manager, Pender County Health Department and Pender County Utilities are committed to providing quality, safe drinking water to our citizens, businesses, and visitors. Elected officials and county staff are working alongside surrounding counties to ensure that the public is kept informed about the presence of GENX in the water supply. In addition, staff is in regular communication with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
This webpage will be updated as new information is made available.
Content last modified: Jul 21, 2017 @ 6:45 pm
To learn more about this issue and the action that has been taken to date, see the links below:
Pender County Updates:
- Governor Cooper to Visit Wilmington Monday For GenX Briefing – Friday, July 21st, 2017
- NC DHHS: FAQ (This information was supplied by NCDHHS)
- GenX Health Risk Clarification from State Regulators (nhcgov.com)- Monday,July 17, 2017
- Local officials to hold press conference on the state’s GenX data and health assessment (nhcgov.com) – Monday, July 17, 2017
- Pender officials expect first water test results this week (Pender Post)- Monday, July 17th, 2017
- Additional GenX discharge at Chemours facility identified and stopped – Thursday, July 13th, 2017
- NCEQ GenX Investigation Webpage – Friday, June 23rd, 2017
- State Moving forward with GenX investigation – Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
- Chemours Announces Voluntary Actions to Respond to North Carolina Community – Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
- Resolution passed by Board of County Commissioners – Monday, June 19th, 2017
- NCEQ Press Release – Monday, June 19th, 2017
- Congressman David Rouzer update on GenX – Friday, June 16th, 2017 4:10pm
- Video of Press Conference with Pender, Brunswick, and New Hanover counties with GenX producer Chemours Co. and NC Department of Environmental Quality – Thursday, June 15th, 2017 1:15pm
Pender County Health Department Updates:
- View the NCDEQ website for Updates on their GenX Investigation
- Governor Cooper Urges EPA to Set Limits for Emerging Contaminant GenX
- Joint DEQ, DHHS Release: State Releases First Water Quality Data, Updated Health Information for GenX in Cape Fear River
- N.C. DHHS Releases Summary of Selected Cancer Rates for Counties in Cape Fear Region
- DEQ Verifies Chemours has Stopped Discharging GenX in Wastewater
NC DHHS Updates:
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
According to DuPont Chemours, GENX is a technology developed to make high-performance polymers used in cabling, cookware non-stick coatings, laptops, cell phones, and similar applications. The processing aid associated with the process is commonly referred to as GENX. GENX was developed as a replacement for PFOA (perfluroctaniac acid). Currently, limited health information is available for GENX.
There are no U.S. regulatory guideline levels for GENX. It is an emerging and unregulated contaminant and there are no EPA-certified methods to monitor and test for GENX.
The EPA’s website www.epa.gov states, “The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) defines contaminant as any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter in the water. Drinking water may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. Some contaminants may be harmful if consumed at certain levels in drinking water. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk”.
Pender County Utilities (PCU) draws raw surface water from the Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority’s intake in the Cape Fear River in Bladen County. The Cape Fear River is also a water supply to Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and Brunswick County Utilities. PCU treats the raw (surface) water to meet federal and state drinking water standards before distributing it to consumers.
Topsail Beach and Surf City operate their own municipal water systems using deep groundwater wells.
Yes. The public water supplies from Pender County meet all standards for drinking water established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and North Carolina DEQ. Pender County Utilities staff monitors your water for the presence and concentration of dozens of different chemicals and substances. Water samples are reported monthly, quarterly, and annually as required by the EPA and DEQ, https://www.epa.gov/sdwa/title-xiv-public-health-service-act-safety-public-water-systems-safe-drinking-water-act.
Upon being notified of the study regarding GENX in our source water, the Pender County Commissioners; County Manager, Randell Woodruff; Health and Human Services Director, Carolyn Moser; and Pender County Utilities Director, Michael Mack began working with elected officials, DEQ, DHHS, as well as our regional county partners to investigate and ensure safe drinking water.
Daily conference calls are held with DHHS, DEQ, Bladen, Brunswick, and New Hanover counties for updates that may impact the health of county residents as research on GENX evolves. Furthermore, county commissioners, led by Commissioner Chair, George Brown and County Manager, Randell Woodruff are communicating with our Cape Fear county partners, state and federal agencies to learn more about GENX and its potential impacts. Chairman Brown has also met with other County Commissioner Chairs for a conference call with Governor Cooper.
Officials will share this information as it becomes available. Staff will stay apprised of all future state and federal water sampling and testing. N.C. DEQ and N.C. DHHS are leading a state investigation into the presence of GenX in the Cape Fear River and are pushing Chemours to limit the amount of GenX being released into the River.
As noted above, studies indicate that the GENX levels detected would be expected to pose a low risk to human health. The health needs and situations of individuals vary widely and the use of bottled water or distilled water is an individual decision.
We know that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet developed a drinking water regulation for this contaminant and that there is limited information available on it. Ultimately, EPA will determine potential impacts and safety standards.
Measurements of GenX are commonly reported as parts per trillion (PPT) or as nanograms per liter (ng/L). According to the EPA, these two forms of measurement are equivalent (1 PPT is the same as 1 ng/L), and both are equivalent to one drop in one trillion gallons of water.
There are no U.S. regulatory guideline levels for GenX. However, on July 14, 2017, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (N.C. DHHS) released an updated preliminary health assessment for concentrations of the unregulated compound GenX in finished, or treated drinking water. The revised health goal for exposure to GenX in drinking water is 140 nanograms per liter (also referred to as parts per trillion). This updated health goal of 140 parts per trillion is expected to be the most conservative and health protective for non-cancer effects in bottle-fed infants, pregnant women, lactating women, children and adults. This health goal is lower than the health goal in the initial preliminary health assessment. This change is due to information from new data.
- The EPA issues Health Advisories for chemicals, guidelines which offer an estimate of acceptable limits for daily consumption that are not expected to cause adverse health effects (which vary by chemical and advisory, but can include health effects like cancer, thyroid effects and/or liver effects) to vulnerable populations (such as infants, pregnant women, or elderly persons). The health advisories refer to consumption over that period of time without adverse health effects for up to one day of exposure. A ten-day health advisory refers to a concentration that is not expected to cause adverse health effects for up to ten days of consistent daily exposure at that level. This is based on a 22 pound child consuming one liter of water per day.
- A Lifetime Health Advisory refers to a concentration that is not expected to cause adverse health effects over a lifetime of consistent daily exposure at that level. This is based on a 154 pound adult consuming two liters of water each day. These advisories are not enforceable standards, but are meant to serve as guidance and are based on scientific studies.
There is very little information currently available regarding GenX and filtration, at the utility level and at the home or individual system level. Some scientists and researchers speculate that certain filtration types might remove GenX from drinking water; however, a this time there is no firm data showing whether or not these systems actually do, and state officials have no recommendations regarding home filtration systems. If data becomes available to Pender County regarding proven steps that residents can take, including home filtration systems, we will share it.
There would not be any expected benefit to boiling water in order to remove GenX, because it is a chemical compound.
Reverse Osmosis is known as an effective treatment technology for the removal of very small size particles, inclusive of essential minerals, many chemical compounds and bacteria. However, Pender County is unaware of any studies that conclusively state that Reverse Osmosis will remove GenX from drinking water. Each drinking water treatment method has its own advantages and disadvantages.a
Is Pender County looking into cancer rates in our area, or a connection between cancer rates and chemicals in our water?
Letters to NCDEQ
New Hanover County and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) sent letters to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality asking the agency to take the lead on researching this issue to evaluate the nature, extent and potential impacts of GenX as quickly as possible. View a copy of these letters below:
Meeting on Drinking Water Safety with Chemours
Meeting Notes: Read a summary of the meeting, provided by the Star News pool reporter in the meeting with Chemours, here.
Photos: View pictures taken at the beginning of the meeting here.
A meeting with Chemours representatives took place Thursday, June 15 at 11:30 a.m. at the New Hanover County Government Center. Meeting invitees included officials from New Hanover County, City of Wilmington, Brunswick County, Pender County, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, NC Department of Environmental Quality, and NC Department of Health and Human Services. View a press release with the meeting’s details here, and a list of invitees and attendees here.
Pool Reporter Selection
New Hanover County’s Manager provided a statement to the media regarding the selection of a pool reporter to attend the informational meeting with Chemours. You can view this statement here.
Below is a sample of questions that New Hanover County is asking The Chemours Company for the purposes of informing the public:
- What were the conditions under the TSCA consent order granted to DuPont relative to the manufacturing, processing and distribution of GenX?
- Is there an order associated with Chemours use of the chemical compound?
- Were there any limitations under the consent order in regards to discharge of GenX?
- What, if any, responsibility for use of the compound remained with DuPont? Or did it all transfer to Chemours?
- Why did Chemours install abatement technology when it did? What does it do? If it was intended to recover or recycle GenX, why is it still showing up in the water?
- How long does GenX last in water? Does it stay in the same chemical form? Does it sit on the bottom of the river?
- Did Chemours know it was discharging GenX before it installed abatement technology?
- What systems are in place to routinely monitor discharge of GenX into the water? Did monitoring continue after the installation of the abatement technology?
- Do you have data that demonstrates reduction in the discharge of GenX since the abatement technology was installed?
- Do any permits held by Chemours allow for the discharge of GenX into the river?
- Is Chemours currently discharging GenX into the river?
- What other materials are being discharged into the river? Are all items regulated?
- Is there a cumulative measure of how much GenX was discharged into the river before abatement technology and since?
- Does DuPont and/or Chemours have health and safety data on GenX and any potential health risks to the drinking water supply at different levels of concentration?
- Describe the toxicology of the impact to the body.
- Does Chemours or DuPont know of any certainty or method to filter or otherwise remove GenX from the water supplies?
- What is Chemours doing right now today and in the future to stop any GenX discharge?
- What are Chemours and DuPont doing to advance clean-up of GenX in the water supply as of now?
- Has DuPont and/or Chemours received any type of notification from any regulatory body involving the discharge of GenX? If so, what are the details of this/these notification(s)?
- Have any local governments made DuPont and/or Chemours aware of their concerns regarding the discharge of GenX? If so, which local governments?
EPA Drinking Water Information
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for drinking water quality and regulates drinking water safety. Below are two helpful links with information about the EPA and drinking water requirements and safety:
Surrounding Counties and Organizations
Pender County is working with Brunswick County, New Hanover County, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and the City of Wilmington to address this issue. Please click the links below for updates from their websites.