Read the full article by Lisa Sorg (NC Newsline)

“More than $55 million is included in the state budget to address PFAS contamination in drinking water, but given the vast scope of the problem in North Carolina, the money won’t go that far.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority in Wilmington would receive $35 million: Roughly half is allocated for public water extensions to private well owners in New Hanover County whose drinking water is contaminated with PFAS; the other half would help pay for the consolidation and regionalization of water and sewer systems in the county that are affected by PFAS.

The regionalization approach could help utilities pay for expensive treatment system upgrades to remove or reduce the contamination, but without burdening ratepayers with enormous water and sewer bills.

The City of Burlington will receive $500,000 to address the PFAS contamination in its wastewater discharge, the source of which is the textile industry. The money could help Burlington meet the requirements of a recent legal settlement with the Haw River Assembly.

Exposure to even very low levels of PFAS, short for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, has been linked to multiple health problems, including thyroid and liver disorders, kidney and testicular cancers, immune system deficiencies, obesity, high cholesterol, and reproductive and fetal development problems. There at least 12,000 types of PFAS, and they are found in water-, stain-, and grease-resistant products, like furniture, carpeting, clothing, microwave popcorn bags and fast-food packaging. PFAS are also found in AFFF firefighting foam.

Stripped from the final version of the budget was a provision originally included that would have allowed PFAS-containing firefighting foam to be used in training exercises at a new Advanced Rescue Training Facility at the Stanly County airport. The facility would have been operated by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. The Collaboratory at UNC-Chapel Hill still received $20 million to conduct PFAS research, including health studies, and to buy back AFFF from fire departments statewide.

As NC Newsline reported in May, there are drawbacks to using AFFF for training. First, this type of toxic foam is being phased out, even by the Defense Department. The risks of training with AFFF – to human health and the environment – might not be worth any short-term benefit of knowing how to work with it.

And although the training facility would be made of concrete and self-contained to contain runoff from the AFFF, if any of the foam were to escape, it could contaminate nearby Little Mountain Creek. That creek flows through the historically Black community of West Badin, which is already burdened with pollution from a former Alcoa aluminum smelting plant. From there, the creek enters Badin Lake, a popular fishing destination and drinking water supply.

There are several other notable environmental provisions in the budget.”…