Read the full article by Lisa Sorg (NC Policy Watch)

“State Rep. Ted Davis Jr. sputtered into his microphone at such volume that it distorted the sound of his words.

‘I’m going to fight for my constituency,’ Davis told his fellow lawmakers on the judiciary committee. ‘If the gentleman from Chemours really wants to show they care, why don’t they pay to make the water safe from the contamination they put in that river?’

Davis’s district is New Hanover County, home of Wilmington which, with Brunswick County, has had to grapple with exorbitant levels of GenX and other types of PFAS in their public drinking water.  The water supply for roughly a half million people in seven counties has been contaminated, including 6,500 private wells.

Yesterday’s public hearing on House Bill 1095 exposed the private battles that have happened for the past five years — battles that thus far have thwarted any meaningful legislation to regulate these toxic compounds: People who’ve been exposed to high levels of PFAS versus powerful and profitable business and chemical interests.

The measure has four primary sponsors: Davis, Frank Iler (R-Brunswick), Charlie Miller (R-Brunswick and New Hanover), and Robert Reives (D-Chatham). 

The culprit behind the contamination in New Hanover and Brunswick counties lay 90 miles upstream. Chemours and its predecessor, DuPont, manufactured several types of PFAS and then discharged the toxic pollutants into the Lower Cape Fear River from its Fayetteville Works plant for decades. 

Depending on exposure levels, PFAS have been linked to multiple health problems, including thyroid disorders, reproductive and fetal development problems, immune system deficiencies and kidney and testicular cancers. 

In addition to drinking water, PFAS are found in microwave popcorn bags, compost, artificial turf, fast food containers, firefighting foam, stain- and grease-resistant fabrics, and hundreds of other consumer products. They are known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they persist in the environment for hundreds, if not thousands of years. 

Most people in the U.S. have PFAS in their blood, but scientists have found that some individuals, like those living in the throughout the Cape Fear River Basin — from Greensboro to Wilmington — have higher than average concentrations because of sustained and high exposures.

House Bill 1095 seeks to right that wrong. (It contains similar language to that in two previous measures from 2019, which went nowhere.)

It would authorize the state’s Environmental Management Commission to adopt a legally enforceable maximum contaminant level for PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances compounds. Although the MCL, as it’s known, is not detailed in the bill, the threshold would be science-based and ‘technologically feasible.'”…