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DEQ to Test New Hanover Wells for PFAS

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — The state Department of Environmental Quality State announced Thursday plans to begin testing groundwater from monitoring wells in New Hanover County for the presence of PFAS compounds, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, or CFPUA, announced Thursday.

Recent groundwater tests detected per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in six of 25 wells that provide untreated water to CFPUA’s Richardson Water Treatment Plant, the county announced Thursday. These findings reveal that PFAS may be affecting groundwater in New Hanover County.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s intake for raw water is just above Lock and Dam No. 1 on the Cape Fear River. Photo: Army Corps of Engineers.

Richardson is the second-largest of CFPUA’s three drinking water-distribution systems and serves northern New Hanover County, including Murrayville, Wrightsboro, Porters Neck, as well as parts of Castle Hayne and Ogden, according to CFPUA.

CFPUA staff informed DEQ, the agency that monitors and regulates water quality, of the results, leading to a conference call Thursday with New Hanover County, Wilmington and CFPUA officials and staff and DEQ representatives to discuss PFAS affecting groundwater in the county, according to CFPUA.

“DEQ’s staff has been in contact with CFPUA and local officials regarding recent data indicating notable measures of cumulative PFAS in groundwater. We share their concerns but realize that one data set does not sufficiently help us understand the cause or source of the contamination. DEQ plans to sample areas of concern and expedite testing results. To date, none of the results are from finished drinking water,” said DEQ’s Director of Public Affairs Megan Thorpe in a statement.

“In light of the CFPUA data disclosed to DEQ on May 8, we will compare the results of the utility’s resampling to the first results and our own data and will share it with local officials once it is received,” she said. “We anticipate that even if expedited, DEQ’s sampling results will take a few weeks to be returned from the lab as our own resources are not sufficient to complete the sampling and testing without an outside contractor.”

According to CFPUA, the PFAS compounds found downstream from the Chemours’ chemical plant near Fayetteville make up most the PFAS detected in these wells, in most cases making up more than 90 percent.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.