Source: Coastal Review
New Hanover County is suing over a dozen companies responsible for contaminating the area’s drinking water with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The lawsuit, filed Friday in New Hanover County Superior Court, targets manufacturers and vendors of products containing these harmful chemicals, known as “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment.
“The blatant disregard for the health and well-being of our citizens and the environment is something we as County Commissioners take very seriously,” said County Commissioner Chair Bill Rivenbark. “For decades, companies have allowed these toxins to be released into the air we breathe and water we drink. They’ve also knowingly used PFAS in products that were crucial to public safety but were also contributing factors to contamination. It’s time they were held accountable for their actions and made to be a part of the solution for a problem they created.”
This lawsuit is part of a growing trend against PFAS manufacturers, found in various products like stain-resistant carpets, food packaging, waterproof clothing, makeup, and firefighting foams. Their release has posed health risks to firefighters and residents alike.
PFAS contamination in New Hanover County stems primarily from the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility, located upstream. The Cape Fear River, the drinking water source for tens of thousands, has been impacted for years.
To address the issue:
- New Hanover County stopped using PFAS-containing firefighting foam.
- The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority invested over $40 million in a filtration system to remove PFAS from drinking water.
- Chemours is required, under a 2019 order, to minimize PFAS discharge from its plant.
Residents with private wells are encouraged to participate in a free testing program.
PFAS exposure is linked to potential health risks, including:
- Weakened immune systems
- Liver damage
- Low birth weight
- Increased cancer risk
New Hanover County’s lawsuit aims to hold polluters accountable for the harm caused and ensure a safer future for its residents.