The Environmental Review Commission will meet in Wilmington on Wednesday to investigate the discharge of the Teflon production by-product GenX into the Cape Fear River.
This is the first of many expected meetings as state leaders seek to find answers surrounding the GenX issue.
Public officials from the lower Cape Fear region have also been invited to attend the hearing.
The secretaries of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Department of Health and Human Services have also been invited to the meeting, along with officials from Chemours, the chemical company producing the GenX.
Chemours is a subsidiary of DuPont.
“It is important for legislators to visit the lower Cape Fear region and hear from local families, public officials and environmental experts,” Speaker of the House Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate Leader Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said in a joint statement. “Legislative hearings will provide a transparent process to help lawmakers and the public understand what happened, review the administration’s handling of this matter, and hopefully begin the process of identifying ways for the administration to address the immediate problem of GenX contamination in our water.”
The push for more information in regards to GenX contamination came not from the usual sources of environmental non-profits.
The head of the conservative Civitas Institute, Francis De Luca, sent a letter to the leaders of the state House and Senate asking that they allocate funds to the public water systems in the lower Cape Fear region to enable them to move quickly to improve their filtration equipment to remove the GenX compound. The letter came on the heels of another letter sent to Chemours, the DEQ and the Environmental Protection Agency claiming illegal conduct under the Clean Water Act.
The first letter stated that if DEQ has not adequately addressed its claims within 60 days of notification, as required by law, the Institute may file a lawsuit in federal court under the CWA for illegal acts.
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority also sent a notice of their own, triggering their own 60-day period for potentially filing a suit to enforce the CWA as well.
The CWA, first written in 1948 and amended in 1972, established the basic structure for the discharge of pollutants in the waters of the United States giving the EPA authority to implement pollution controls, through the actions of the many states.
Under the CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting process, a permit is required to discharge any toxin into navigable U.S. waters.
While environmental nonprofits have joined the conversation about GenX, the response has been less than some would have expected.
“The usual groups on the environmental Left, such as the Southern Environmental Law Center, the National Resource Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund, were all missing in action after having spent tens of millions of dollars to elect Gov. Roy Cooper, it seems like they may want to protect him now,” De Luca said.
The hearing will be held at the New Hanover County Government Center at 1:30 p.m.
The commission membership consists of:
From the House,
Rep. Jimmy Dixon, Co-Chair
Rep. Chuck McGrady, Co-Chair
Rep. Pat McElraft, Vice-Chair
Rep. Kyle Hall
Rep. Pricey Harrison
Rep. Bob Steinburg
Rep. Chris Millis
Rep. William Brisson
Rep. Larry Yarborough, Advisory Member
Rep. Holly Grange, Advisory Member
Rep. Frank Iler, Advisory Member
Rep. Ted Davis, Advisory Member
From the Senate,
Sen. Trudy Wade, Chair
Sen. Dan Bishop
Sen. Angela Bryant
Sen. Bill Cook
Sen. Brent Jackson
Sen. Norman Sanderson
Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram
Sen. Andy Wells