An N.C. State study shows that more than three hundred Wilmington-area residents tested positive for fluorochemicals in their blood, attorneys in a class-action lawsuit against The Chemours Company announced Tuesday. The company was cited for numerous violations by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality last year after an investigation showed eighty-five wells near the factory had been contaminated with GenX, a cancer-causing chemical manufactured by Chemours.
“What began as a search for GenX has led to the discovery of a Pandora’s box of chemicals in residents’ homes and bodies,” attorney Ted Leopold said in a statement. “We know that this family of chemicals is dangerous. We know that this company has a history of irresponsibly dumping toxic waste into the Cape Fear River—and hiding their conduct from state regulators. We now know that this toxic dumping goes far beyond GenX.”
Chemours, a spin-off of DuPont, is the only company that manufacturers these types of fluorochemicals along the Cape Fear River. Blood samples from residents taken between November 2017 and March 2018 showed signs of Nafion byproduct 2, PFO2HxA, PFO3OA, PFO4DA, and Ester Vinyl Ether. The chemicals are closely related to GenX and remain in the human body, causing negative health effects, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Although the residents did not test positive for GenX, attorney Steve Morrissey, who is also representing the plaintiffs, said “the damage has already been done.”
“These tests show what the plaintiffs in our case have known all along: What Chemours puts in the water is damaging these communities’ health and livelihoods,” Morrissey said.
In June, the state filed a court order requiring the company to immediately reduce emissions and chemical discharges into local water bodies including:
“We are taking this comprehensive legal action to protect communities from further impacts due to GenX contamination,” said DEQ Secretary Michael Regan. “We need to ensure that Chemours moves quickly to stop the release of these chemicals and address the impacts that have already occurred.”