Is CFPUA Drinking Water Tainted?

Jun 7, 2017

The StarNews has broken a story about a potentially-cancer-causing chemical in southeastern North Carolina’s drinking water supply. According to a piece published by Vaughan Hagerty at, a chemical replacement for a key ingredient in Teflon linked to cancer and a host of other ailments has been found in the drinking water system of the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. 

Known commercially as GenX, the contaminating compound is made by the Chemours Co. at Fayetteville Works, an industrial site straddling the Cumberland-Bladen county line along the Cape Fear River, about 100 miles upstream from Wilmington.

The GenX compound is not regulated, in part because it’s so new.

“We don’t know enough now to regulate this appropriately.”

Dr. Larry Cahoon is with the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

“If it’s not regulated that means we may not have the legal authority to prohibit discharging that material.”

He says testing needs to be done by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s EPA. These are by federal regulations under the Clean Water Act. EPA does not have the resources to test the parade of new chemicals that are coming out of year. They have never had the resources to do that.”

And Cahoon says it’s part of a bigger issue.

“This is a symptom of a much broader problem we have, which is that there are so many new compounds out there that aren’t going to be tested quickly or will never be tested, that we’re basically living in a chemical soup.”  

Cahoon says most industrial chemicals in use today, have not been tested. He says the only treatment system that will remove these compounds from the water is reverse osmosis. 

WHQR has spoken with both CFPUA and DEQ officials who have promised interviews, but so far, have not made themselves available.