SELC op-ed: GenX needs action, not more study

The riverfront in downtown Wilmington, N.C.

As state senators look to stall action on GenX pollution in North Carolina’s Cape Fear region, Derb Carter, Director of SELC’s Chapel Hill office, penned an op-ed outlining specific steps the state could take to address ongoing concerns. Read an excerpt of the op-ed, co-authored with Kemp Burdette of Cape Fear Riverwatch, below; the full text from the Wilmington Star-News can be found here.


In January, the N.C. House of Representatives passed a bill that required more study of GenX and other toxic contaminants in our drinking water sources and appropriated $2.3 million to the Department of Environmental Quality to help address the problem. The N.C. Senate refused to even consider the bill.

Unfortunately, the House bill only calls for more study of a problem that requires action. It directs the DEQ and the Department of Health and Human Services to consult with the Science Advisory Board established by the agencies, as if the agencies did not plan to seek the advice of the science board they created.

The proposed legislation also directs DEQ to study its water quality permitting process, to communicate with neighboring states on water quality issues, and to make recommendations to the legislature.

It also would provide much-needed funding to DEQ to address toxic pollution of our waters.

After eight months of drinking bottled water or wondering about the safety of every glass of water from the tap, more study is likely not what many residents of the lower Cape Fear region – from Fayetteville to Wilmington – want to hear from our legislature.

The Southern Environmental Law Center and Cape Fear Riverwatch made specific recommendations to the General Assembly for legislative actions to address GenX and other contaminants in the state’s drinking water sources.

There are several actions the legislature should immediately take outlined below. Legislative action, not more study, is what we need to address GenX and other toxic contaminants in our water. No one should have to worry another day about the safety of the water they drink.

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