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Neighbors remain skeptical following first meeting with Chemours

Posted June 12, 2018 5:57 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:14 a.m. EDT

— The company responsible for releasing GenX into the Cape Fear River spoke to the public face-to-face for the first time Tuesday night.

Representatives from the Chemours plant took questions from the public about GenX, but attorneys representing affected families are calling the move a public relations stunt and some in the community were skeptical of the meeting.

Jonathan Webb said the answers from Chemours were not satisfactory and, while he protested, he was escorted out.

"I also have DEQ's report right here. They're telling me this is safe drinking levels for me and my family. I think it's 58 nanograms per liter. It should be zero," Webb said.

Chemours said it installed equipment that would lower GenX emissions by 70 percent by October, but the Department of Environmental Quality asked a judge this week to make it a 90 percent reduction by August.

Since September, Chemours has sampled roughly 800 residents and collected over 1,200 samples.

"We do have some GenX in ground water, about 140 above the provisional health number, but we also have quite a number that are well below," said Chemours representative Kevin Garon.

Even with the timeline mandated by the DEQ, skepticism remains among residents.

"The bottom line is they need to get their act together and clean it up," said resident James Griffith.

"These people are only going to do what the government, or the state or the DEQ or EPA is requiring them to do, and that's what they said, 'we're going to do what's required of us,' and they're not going above and beyond," Webb said.

Chemours has already stopped dumping GenX and other compounds into the Cape Fear River, but it emits chemicals into the air, and there is enough in the ground near the facility that heavy rains wash the chemical, which is used to make Teflon and other products, into the water.

DEQ also issued a notice of violation to Chemours Monday for 18 additional compounds found at the plant, which were detailed in a Jan. 31 report by the company. Groundwater data showed levels of the compounds above allowed concentrations, and DEQ "is exploring all legal options, including civil penalties, for the violations," the department said.