GenX found in wells in West Virginia
Feb. 13--GenX has been found in wells near a Chemours plant in West Virginia, raising concerns there about contaminated drinking water.
The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware, reports Chemours is testing drinking water this month near its Washington Works plant in Parkersburg, per a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency request.
The EPA's acting water protection director, Kate McManus, had said in a January letter to Chemours that GenX was found in four wells near the facility, and the agency is concerned about area drinking water contamination like in North Carolina.
The chemical is used to make nonstick cookware and other products, and has been linked to several forms of cancer in animal studies.
North Carolina started investigating GenX in July, after news broke that researchers had found it and similar compounds in the Cape Fear River downstream in Wilmington.
Chemours agreed to stop discharging GenX into the river, but it has since been discovered in more than 250 private wells around the facility. Thousands of people from Cumberland County to the coast are now drinking bottled water as a result.
The state cut off and capped a Chemours discharge pipe to the Cape Fear River in November. Less than two weeks later, GenX was found in the river at a concentration of 2,300 parts per trillion, more than 16 times higher than the 140 parts per trillion the state considers safe. Researchers are investigating whether the GenX came from soil surrounding the plant or from another source.
Researchers are also testing rainwater surrounding Chemours to determine whether GenX may be spreading by air as well as water.
More than 100 people from southeastern North Carolina have joined a class-action lawsuit seeking $5 billion in damages from DuPont and Chemours, which took over production of DuPont's fluoroproducts in 2015.
The lawsuit says that DuPont and Chemours knew the chemicals were "extremely dangerous" even in small doses and that they poured them into the water and the air "simply to avoid the expense of taking safety precautions." The lawsuit was filed by Cohen Milstein Sellers Toll, the firm that is handling a class-action lawsuit involving the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.
DuPont began producing GenX at its Fayetteville Works plant in 2009 as a safer alternative to perfluorooctanoic acid, which the company called C8.
Last year, DuPont settled a lawsuit for $671 million that was filed on behalf of people living near the Chemours plant in Parkersburg. The lawsuit alleged that for decades, DuPont dumped C8 into the Ohio River knowing it was a human health hazard.
DuPont produced C8 at the Fayetteville Works plant from 2002 to 2009, when it switched to GenX.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Staff writer Greg Barnes can be reached at email@example.com or 910-486-3525.