From Star News: Maybe public outrage can make legislature act on water safety
For years Republicans in Raleigh have been slashing the budgets of environmental agencies. They will not admit that their huge cuts have caused people in North Carolina to suffer. They have only offered band aid solutions that don’t fix the problem at it’s source. Governor Cooper requested $2.6 million in restored funding for watchdog agencies to be able to effectively stop polluters from dumping chemicals into our water and air. Republicans gave only a fraction of that funding to one local water utility, and UNCW neither of which has any authority over polluters and can do nothing statewide. This is not just a Wilmington problem, contaminates are being found inside of homes, in the ground water, and possibly in the air, all over the state. The people of North Carolina must DEMAND action. Our state legislature needs to put people before polluters.
The state’s water quality problem isn’t going away; it’s only growing.
Another lawsuit against Chemours and DuPont was filed Monday — by a Brunswick County woman with high levels of GenX in her water heater. The chemical is being found in more private wells near the Fayetteville Works industrial site, and the state is testing water at three Cumberland County schools.
After the state found elevated levels of GenX in the well water of a home near Chemours, the owner paid a lab $800 for further analysis. The tests found about 15 “emerging contaminants.”
Meanwhile, we are hearing from people who recently moved here and found their first big decision was whether or not to drink the water.
That’s not good, folks.
But don’t fret — the General Assembly is all over it. When Gov. Roy Cooper asked for an extra $2.6 million — out of a $23 billion budget — to shore up the state’s understaffed water-quality agency, the Honorables more or less told him to get stuffed.
Instead, they gave $185,000 to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, $250,000 to UNCW, and then washed their hands of the problem — maybe with bottled water.
We hope the money will help in some way with GenX, but it’s far too little and does nothing for the folks in Cumberland and Bladen counties, where much more than GenX is turning up in the water. The Cape Fear River, meanwhile, is one big chemical-laden mess.
“GenX is only a small fraction of the total level of fluorochemicals that we have found in the river, and the other levels are some times 50 to 100 times higher,” said N.C. State’s Detlef Knappe, an expert on chemical contaminants.
In the Greensboro area, a compound called 1,4 dioxane — used in commercial solvents — is being discharged into the Cape Fear River watershed. Knappe found levels 100 times higher than what the EPA considers safe.
“I think we … have to ask harder questions when we issue permits for industrial discharges,” Knappe told WRAL-TV in July. “If we know we’re making byproducts and we don’t know what they are, then it’s pretty irresponsible to just discharge them into a river …”
But that’s the situation we find ourselves in. And the General Assembly’s leadership has shown no sense of urgency in responding.
The people of North Carolina deserve better. But we know Berger/Moore & Co. are not going to listen to Gov. Cooper or leaders in his administration.
It looks like residents will have to demand action. We’d suggest they do so — and with a strong dose of outrage.