Robeson Co. tests private wells for possible GenX contamination

ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WMBF) - Crews with the Robeson County Department of Public Health tested residents' private drinking wells Monday for the chemical GenX.

Robeson County health officials became concerned about the possible contamination after Cape Fear River was found with high levels of the GenX chemical last year.

Bill Smith, the county's director of public health, said the source of the contamination was traced back to Chemours plant in Fayetteville, which discharges the chemical into the river

"We though it was just located either in the soil or the water, but now it turns out to be airborne, which then moves it across county lines," Smith said.

GenX is a chemical used in the creation of Teflon, a nonstick coating or additives in things like frying pans or paint.

Smith said once GenX hits the water, it becomes a potentially deadly combination.

"Through lab test, it's been determined that liver cancer could develop from long-term exposure," Smith said.

Crews went door to door taking two water samples from private drinking water wells in St. Pauls, a community near the Chemours plant. To test the water, crews let it run for at least 15 minutes. Then, they labeled the containers and put them in iced coolers to be sent to a lab in Charleston.

Donnell Rozier was one of the residents whose water was tested.

"I'm glad they came out here to see what's going on," Rozier said.

He added it's not himself he's worried about, but the people close to him.

"I want to know to catch it just in case it get in the system and then they have to go through it," Rozier said. "Like I said, I got my grandson, my daughter and my wife in the house too so I want to make sure they will be alright."

Smith said they're hoping to get at least 48 samples. They should get results in four to five weeks.

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