Read the full article by Emily M. Williams (Bladen Journal)

“CLARKTON — UNC Wilmington student and former Clarkon resident Grey Caballero is continuing his research into the social implications of the GenX contamination in Bladen County and working on his honors thesis.

Caballero, along with his department head, Dr. Bill Alexander, were slated to make a presentation at a conference, but it was postponed because of COVID-19.

‘At this point we are still in the gathering information stages,’ said Caballero in an exclusive video chat with the Bladen Journal. ‘We have only been interviewing a couple of people and just getting information on the issue.’

Caballero has been talking with different groups and individuals to see what the social climate is, how the information is being disseminated and where people are getting their information.

Initially his research had begun around Wilmington, but he has been branching out farther in the last few months more towards the Gray’s Creek area and deeper into Bladen County.

Caballero is working on his anthropology thesis under the supervision of Alexander, chairman of the Department of Anthropology at UNCW. Both were supposed to present their findings at the Society for Applied Anthropology meetings that were to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Different presenters from all over the country were to gather to hear about different locale’s responses to PFAS.

PFAS is the acronym for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

‘I organized a panel of researchers who are doing research on PFAS in Ohio, upstate New York and Vermont,’ Alexander said. ‘We were going to talk about this project here in North Carolina.’

The panel is called the ‘Future of Forever Chemicals.’

Their team had put out a call asking for other anthropologists that were doing research on these chemicals, and had a good response, Alexander said. Both Caballero and Alexander have been to public forums and events held by Mike Watters, who has actively followed and researched Chemours’ response since the plant was cited in June 2017 for contaminating the Cape Fear River. They also attended the protest that was held at the plant in early March.

Watters has prepared a number of presentations, and one in particular stood out to Alexander.

‘You could have walked in there with no understanding and gotten a pretty good idea,’ he said.

Caballero said the process has been evolving, and they will continue interviewing people, and ‘clarifying what they want to ask in the later stages of the research.’

Ashley Barham, a UNCW anthropology lecturer, was also a part of the video conference, to assist with taking notes as well as asking questions. She has a Master of Science in anthropology and development management through The London School of Economics and Political Science…”