GenX in Cape Fear River

Protestors - Starnews online

 Photo from Wilmington Star News

NOTE:  The articles on this page are listed in
order from the most recent to the oldest.

An unregulated chemical compound (GenX) is one of the most serious and complex issues facing the Cape Fear River between Fayetteville and Wilmington.  As a result there has been a lot of media coverage.  Here we present some of the most significant articles that cover a wide range of issues.  Note that the article abstracts will be presented with the earliest one on top.  This is due to the quickly evolving state of this issue.  More articles will be presented as issues develop.

 Photograph of Treated Wastewater flowing from an outfall pipe from the
Chemours plant into the Cape Fear River.  (Source: WRAL news )

“House leaders decided it would be a good opportunity to tackle the GenX water contamination issue that’s left communities from Fayetteville to Wilmington questioning if there’s poison in their water supply. A House bill mandated several studies on the issue and provided $2.3 million to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality for extra staff and equipment it’s seeking to research potentially dangerous chemicals. The key problem with GenX and related chemicals is how little scientists know about them — they might give you cancer, but we don’t yet know for sure.GenX solutions require a scarce commodity: cooperation.  GenX became a political issue where Democrats wanted to beef up an environmental regulatory agency that had faced budget cuts, while Republicans argued that there were better ways to address the issue — partnering with university researchers and the affected public water utility.”  GenX solutions require a scarce commodity: cooperation.  January 16, 2018, Citizen Times.



Photo from Gannett News Services

“As GenX and the topic of emerging contaminants remain a matter of debate for North Carolina’s legislators, they are also still on the minds of many other entities across the state.  And while action doesn’t appear imminent on a GenX bill in the General Assembly, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the court system and utilities are forging ahead on their own pieces of the GenX puzzle. … Chemours agreed Nov. 30 to capture all of its process-related wastewater following almost six months of state and federal investigations, legal filings and public outcry triggered by a StarNews report that researchers found GenX and other fluorochemicals from the company in the river and downstream public water systems. The company already faced losing its discharge privilege after DEQ moved to partially suspend its permit at the end of November. Weeks later, GenX continues to turn up in trace amounts in water downstream.” GenX update: So where do things stand now?  Jan 15, 2018.  Star News.

star news online

Photo from Wilmington Star News Online

House Bill 189 made it through the House late Wednesday, freeing up funds focused on the GenX and emerging contaminants problem. It now goes to the Senate, where its future is not so bright. Was it all for nothing?  That’s what concerned citizens are asking themselves after Wednesday’s unanimous vote for House Bill 189, which would send $2.3 million to the NC Department of Environmental Quality to pay for water quality sampling, permitting backlogs, and measuring the air and water for GenX.  House members from both sides of the aisle spoke strongly in favor of the legislation.”  GenX: Senate Likely To Kill Latest Funding Bill.  Jan 12, 2018, WHQR.


cbs news Sample

Photo from WNCN (CBS News)

“The NC House unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would provide funding to look into water contamination. … State officials started investigating the chemical after it leaked into the Cape Fear River from a nearby plant.  “This is a public health hazard that requires immediate attention. We’re seven months in and nothing of substance has occurred. Nothing,” said Rep. Deb Butler, a Democrat who represents District 18 (Brunswick, New Hanover). … Senate leader Phil Berger released a statement following the vote: several months ago we passed legislation to immediately and directly address the problem of GenX contamination in the lower Cape Fear region. We provided funding to local public utilities to begin removing GenX from public water supplies. And we commissioned studies to quantify the amount of GenX in the Cape Fear River and determine the impact it could have on public health and safety.  NC House passes bill to address Gen-X fears. January 10, 2018. ABC 11 News.

bladen news online

Photo from Bladen News Online

“The North Carolina legislature returned to work Wednesday, passing a few simple bills but finishing with Republicans unable to agree on more immediate action for water quality challenges intensified since disclosure of the discharge of a little-studied chemical into a river. …  The people want to know what is in the water,” Rep. Jimmy Dixon of Duplin County said about the new equipment funding in the measure subsequently approved by the House. ‘This is an excellent first step.'” North Carolina Lawmakers Back at Work, No New GenX Deal Yet.  January 19, 2018.  Associated Press.

the intercept

Photo from The Intercept

“A House committee set up to initiate a legislative response to GenX and other emerging contaminants approved a set of provisions Thursday to be introduced at next week’s special session.  Rep. Ted Davis, R-New Hanover, who chairs the House Select Committee on North Carolina River Quality, said this first round of legislation is aimed at “non-controversial, short-term solutions.” The bill, he said, “does not have everything that everybody wants, but it’s a starting point that we can subsequently build on and give us momentum as we go into the short session.” GenX Bill Orders Studies, Provides No Money.  January 5, 2018. The Coastal Review Online.


GenX_NC Health News

Photo from NC Health News

“Elevated levels of a potentially carcinogenic chemical have been found in five wells on the east side of the Cape Fear River, state records show. The test results are the first showing high detections of GenX on the side of the river opposite the Chemours plant, which is believed to be the source of the contamination. In other developments, state officials have expanded the area where tests are being done to within a mile and a half of the Chemours property boundary, according to Jill Lucas, a N.C. Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman. Tests were first done within a mile of the plant, then expanded to within a mile of the property boundary. ‘As we have said before,’ Lucas said, “private well sampling will continue until we find where the contamination ends.” GenX discovered east of Cape Fear River. Dec 29, 2017, The Fayetteville Observer.

GenX_HandsOriginal-NC Health News

Photo from NC Health News

“The more scientists look for GenX and other similar, potentially hazardous chemicals in North Carolina, the more they find. And next spring they could ramp up their efforts. The state’s environmental regulators at the Department of Environmental Quality took several actions in late 2017 against the company that has been accused of being behind much of the water pollution. And as 2018 rolls around, the legislature appears ready to give DEQ more direction on addressing GenX. State lawmakers have squabbled over some of the details on how to address GenX, a chemical used in Teflon whose health effects are largely untested. But disagreements aside, addressing water pollution is high on the list for lawmakers when they return briefly to Raleigh in January. There’s a bipartisan consensus in the General Assembly that more action is needed” First up for NC lawmakers in 2018? Dealing with GenX pollution. December 31, 2017. The News and Observer


“Dominating local news and even receiving national attention is the ongoing controversy over GenX, an emerging contaminant emitted from the DuPont subsidiary Chemours, located along the Bladen-Cumberland counties line. The compound literally came under the microscope after two 2016 publications by N.C. State University Professor Detlef Knappe showing elevated levels of a perflourinated compound in the drinking water along the Cape Fear River.” GenX tops the news in 2017.  December 29, 2017, The Bladen Journal.


Photo from WWAY

“Duke University researchers say they’ve found relatives of the chemical GenX in Jordan Lake, two of its feeder streams and in the town of Cary’s tap water. … Those samples, and a third drawn near Cary’s Jordan Lake water intake, all returned detectable levels of nine “perflorinated chemicals” that have been in use longer than GenX, Stapleton said, adding that she subsequently alerted Cary water-system officials and shared the data with them.” A search for GenX yields an unexpected discovery here in the Triangle.  December 21, 2017. The News and Observer.

JordanDam - TJH (67)

Jordan Lake Dam Photo from Dr. Tom Hoban

“How does it affect humans? How does it react in the air? What about the fish that live in the river where it has been discharged for decades? Even as Chemours faces revocation of its wastewater discharge permit at its Fayetteville Works facility, questions continue to mount about the chemical known as GenX and other chemical compounds the former DuPont plant has been releasing into the Cape Fear River and the air.” Biologist on GenX Health Effects: ‘It’s Toxic’ December 20, 2017.  Coastal Review Online.


Photo from NCHWRA

“One of about 85,000 chemicals registered in the United States are not tested for in drinking water. One of them is GenX, a man-made compound that manufacturing facilities have discharged into North Carolina’s Cape Fear River for decades. In the second of a two-part series, NewsHour Weekend visits the area, where residents are asking questions about the chemical’s health effects.”  How an unregulated chemical entered a North Carolina community’s drinking water. Dec 17, 2017 PBS News Hours. (Includes 10:30 Video)

TaintedWaters NC Health Watch

Photo from NC Health Watch

The following article does an excellent job of laying out a detailed timeline about the history of GenX in the Cape Fear River.  The first article in 1971 said “Commercial production begins at the Fayetteville Works plant, built by chemical company DuPont. The plant is located about 15 miles south of Fayetteville on the border of Cumberland and Bladen counties. It sits along the Cape Fear River, the primary source of drinking water for Brunswick, Bladen, New Hanover and Pender counties.” Tracking the Route of GenX in the Cape Fear River.  November 22, 2017.

wncm hearing

Photo from WNCM

“The state Department of Environmental Quality has cited Chemours for failing to report a spill of a GenX precursor into the Cape Fear River last month, raising the possibility of fining the company for the first time since scientists discovered the unregulated compound in drinking water late last year.  DEQ issued a notice of violation to demand details about the size and duration of an Oct. 6 spill of dimer acid fluoride – which effectively breaks down in water into the equivalent of GenX – at the company’s Fayetteville Works facility in Bladen County. GenX is a poorly studied and unregulated contaminant in a family of chemicals linked to cancer and other negative health effects.” NC regulators cite Chemours over unreported spill. November 14, 2017. WRAL News.

wway sampling

Photo from WWAY

“Chemours did not report a spill that resulted in a GenX spike in the Cape Fear River until approached by regulators, according to a N.C. Department of Environmental Quality news release.  DEQ said Thursday it will take additional enforcement actions against Chemours as a result of the spill, which was identified after Environmental Protection Agency tests from early October showed a significant spike in the concentrations of GenX found in the river.”  Chemours’ spill in October results in more GenX in Cape Fear River. November 9, 2017 by Fayetteville Observer.

fayetteville_plant_photo starNEWS

Photo from Fayetteville Observer

“For people who work to protect the environment, the chemical’s presence in the water highlights what’s wrong with the regulatory process.,, The state of America’s water has been at issue for years. GenX contamination in the Cape Fear River is a small part of a bigger story about the degradation of the country’s drinking water and a regulatory system that can’t address it.” Toxic GenX: The ‘canary in the coal mine’ by Wilmington Star News.

wilmington star news protest

Picture from Wilmington Star News

“Chemours and state regulators have reached an agreement to end discharge of GenX and two other chemical Substances from its Fayetteville works plant into the Cape Fear River.  Along with no new discharges, company will turn over confidential business information to state regulators.”  NC, Chemours strike deal on toxic GenX, September 11, 2017 by Wilmington Star News.

cbs north carolina

Photo from CBS News

“Erin Brockovich has been involved in the GenX issues from afar, but now she is in Wilmington to see the problem at hand, first hand. ‘We as people have gotten very comfortable and compliant that we just turn on the tap and you’re going to have good water’,” Brockovich said.  Erin Brockovich stays busy with GenX while visiting Wilmington, August 17, 2017 by WWAY News (Includes 1:51 Video.)

wilmington-nc-drinking-water-CBS News

Photo from CBS News

“Just over halfway through 2017, the number of protest notices filed with the Wilmington Police Department is nearly double those seen in the entirety of 2016.  Since Jan. 1, WPD has received at least 36 notice of intent to picket forms, up significantly from the 22 in 2016. The organizations filing the notices stick closely to political causes, from the Women Organizing for Wilmington!, who gather weekly on a variety of issues, to groups speaking out specifically against GenX, to advocacy for the preservation of the planet.”  Protesting is up in Wilmington thanks to politics, GenX, August 14, 2017. Wilmongton Star News.

whqr protest

Photo from WHQR

One article (Nov. 30, 2017) saidThe partial suspension of Chemours’ permit regulating the wastewater released in the areas where the company produces GenX and other fluorinated compounds takes effect.” There are dozens of points in time between these two dates. Timeline: Tracking the route of GenX in the Cape Fear River. by WRAL November 22, 2017 (Includes 47:11 Video of Governor Cooper’s Press Conference on July 27, 2018).

timeline NCSU

Timeline from NC State University
Click to Enlarge for Easier Reading

“GenX, which has sparked concern and outrage among Wilmington-area residents since word surfaced last month that elevated levels of the chemical were found in the Cape Fear River, may be the least of people’s worries, a North Carolina State University scientist said Friday. “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 Detlef Knappe, a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at N.C. State and one of the state’s top researchers for Gen X and other contaminants in drinking water.   NCSU scientist: GenX not only toxic chemical in Cape Fear River, July 28, 2017 by WRAL News (Includes 2:49 video

wbtv protester

Photo from WBTV

“Some 60,000 Wilmington, N.C., residents get their drinking water from the Cape Fear River.  DuPont and its spinoff company Chemours manufacture chemicals at a plant upstream from the city.  The plant is situated on a 2,100-acre property on the Cape Fear River in Fayetteville. It is there where a chemical called GenX — a potentially cancer-causing substance that is a byproduct of DuPont and Chemours’ manufacturing processes — is produced.” N.C. drinking water tainted with chemical byproduct for decades? CBS News June 26, 2017 (Includes 5:16 Video).


Graphic from The Intercept

“North Carolina finds itself trying to assess the risk from an industrial chemical few knew lurked in waters feeding municipal drinking water plants… GenX is an excellent example of a compound that few experts expected to find in public waterways until they did.”  Another Unwelcome Contaminant in the Cape Fear River,  J by North Carolina Health News.

Progressive Pulse Art

Photo from NC Policy Watch

Information about GenX and the most recent news articles are compiled by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) CFPUA is the utility that provides drinking water to all the businesses and residential customers in the Wilmington area.  Their website is an excellent source of up-to-date and accurate information collected from a wide variety of sources.


Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) service area From CFPUA.
Areas shaded in blue receive water from the Cape Fear River


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