Chemours plant in Holland believed to be source of contamination

WILMINGTON — Dutch officials have launched an investigation into GenX as researchers both in the United States and Europe struggle to wrap their arms around the long-term health effects of the man-made compound that’s been found in the Cape Fear River and the water supply of the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA).

The Dutch public health institute RIVM study started after GenX produced at the Dordrecht chemical plant was found in the Merwede River, according to Dutch media reports. Officials said the chemical “poses a ‘significant’ risk” to the 750,000 people who rely on the river for drinking water.

GenX was found in a recent study of CFPUA water, with the utility unable to filter out the compound. The chemical is commercially produced at Fayetteville Works, an industrial site on the Cape Fear River, about 100 miles upstream from Wilmington. The Chemours Co., a spinoff from DuPont, operates the Dordrecht plant and has a facility at the sprawling Fayetteville Works complex.

GenX is in the fluorochemicals family of man-made compounds used in a wide range of industrial processes and consumer products — including Teflon and some cosmetics. GenX replaced PFOA — commonly called C8 — in 2009 after lawsuits that drinking water contaminated with C8 caused cancer. Its manufacturer says GenX has a “favorable toxicological profile,” a term that describes its toxicity and adverse health effects.

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