Raleigh, N.C. – Sens. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick), Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland), Trudy Wade (R-Guilford) and Andy Wells (R-Catawba) have introduced legislation to make available an extensive network of world-class scientists, over one hundred mass spectrometers, and other resources within the University of North Carolina system to analyze water samples and conduct research on ways to improve water quality in areas of the state affected by GenX – at no additional cost to taxpayers.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) office at Research Triangle Park –which also shares jurisdiction over affected waters – has already offered the state access to a mass spectrometer and analysis at no cost.
The bill also provides $2.4 million for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and dedicates $2 million already in the budget of a policy research program at UNC-Chapel Hill to carry out its provisions.
In addition, the bill would:
- Require the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to consult with the EPA, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, as well as the UNC system, to develop health goals for GenX and other related chemicals.
- Have DEQ coordinate with environmental agencies in the neighboring states of South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and West Virginia to share information and data about contaminants in surface and ground water that often cross state borders.
- Require DEQ to review the state’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program and its disclosure requirements to ensure it is protecting public health and the environment, and issuing permits in a timely manner.
- Make sure DEQ cooperates with the EPA on any audit of the permitting program to ensure environmental programs are working effectively and adequately protecting the health and well-being of the citizens of North Carolina.
“Water quality is not a political issue — it is a public health issue, and a deeply personal issue to me. The health of my constituents in Southeast North Carolina, neighbors and family depend on what we do, and I am pleased this bill will leverage the expertise of our university system’s world-renowned scientists and utilize state-of-the-art equipment that already belongs to our taxpayers to research ways to improve and protect our drinking water,” said Lee. “This legislation provides another incremental step forward as we continue to search for answers as to how GenX has been in our water supply for over 35 years and why we continue to hear there are further discharges of GenX and other compounds with no enforcement action on the part of DEQ.”
Senate Republicans will continue working toward solutions on GenX as they head into the legislative short session.
Last fall, Senate Republicans passed legislation to immediately and directly address the problem of GenX contamination in the lower Cape Fear region. They provided funding to local public utilities to begin removing GenX from public water supplies and commissioned studies to quantify the amount of GenX in the Cape Fear River and determine the impact it could have on public health and safety. The first round of data is due this spring.