At their Monday evening meeting, the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution opposing the Chemours Fayetteville Works plant’s proposed import of up to 4.4 million pounds of GenX, a “forever” chemical linked to adverse health outcomes, from the Netherlands.
The letter states that commissioners stand “firmly opposed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowing the importation of waste material containing GenX” to the Fayetteville plant.
The Gray’s Creek area of Cumberland County, which the commissioners oversee, has been dealing with per- and polyfluorinated substance (PFAS) pollution from the Chemours plant for the last six years after the chemicals, including GenX, were discovered in the Cape Fear River in 2017.
“We have struggled with this issue for many years and the fact that this is even being considered is the kind of thing that makes citizens lose confidence in government,” said Commissioner Jimmy Keefe in a statement to CityView.
The import has been heavily opposed by grassroots groups such as Gray’s Creek Residents United Against PFAS and North Carolina Stop GenX. After initially approving the import in October, the EPA recently requested a temporary pause on the import of GenX until Dec. 1 due to public outcry and a letter from Gov. Roy Cooper opposing the shipment. According to the EPA, no imports of the chemical have occurred in 2023, WRAL reported earlier this month.
“We call for augmented transparency, community involvement, and intergovernmental cooperation in decisions regarding the management, regulation, and oversight of substances such as GenX that pose considerable public health and environmental risks,” the commissioners’ letter said.
The commissioners previously filed a lawsuit in early 2022 against Chemours and its co-defendants, alleging that the companies are responsible for the contamination of groundwater in Cumberland County. The lawsuit remains in active litigation on its claims against Chemours and its co-defendants. A trial is set for March 10, 2025, according to Cumberland County officials.
Commissioners are also currently working on a permanent solution to provide clean water to the Gray’s Creek area.
During a Sept. 18 regular meeting, commissioners approved a contract with HDR engineering to conduct a study on viable locations for the construction of wells in the Gray’s Creek area to provide water to Gray’s Creek Elementary School and Alderman Road Elementary School, and to develop a long-term water solution for the residents of Gray’s Creek. That study is set to last 10 months.
Community organizer Jamie White said she thinks Monday’s resolution is a “step in the right direction” but wishes the county would do more to provide clean water to residents.
“They can do all the studies they want,” she said. “They've already had studies done out there, but PWC (Public Works Commission) won't provide us the water.”
The recent resolution passed by the commissioners will also be shared with the county’s federal and state representatives, Gov. Cooper and the N.C Dept. of Environmental Quality secretary, according to the resolution passed Monday.
“We also encouraged all counties affected by Gen-X to submit resolutions condemning this action,” Keefe said in a statement.
Read the full resolution here.
Contact Char Morrison at email@example.com.