More “forever chemicals” found in coastal waterways

MAYSVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – New research into PFAS chemicals recorded 30 water samples containing the chemical in six parts of the White Oak River Basin.

Nicknamed “forever chemicals,” PFAS can be found in water/grease-resistant cookware, food wrappers, household products and fire-fighting foam. They are connected to a number of terminal illnesses.

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch collected six surface water samples from the White Oak, New, Newport, and North rivers in the White Oak River Basin.

“That relates to surface water versus groundwater and drinking water versus water that you’re playing in, and when you go out in your backyard and your creek or where you’re fishing – all of these systems are connected,” said CCRW Executive Director Lisa Rider.

The Town of Maysville has relied on Jones County’s water supply since 2019 because of over-contamination in town wells. It has received more than $1.5 million in grant and aid funding for water infrastructure reconstruction.

“We just got a temporary permit to move forward to deal with a test well for the new well, so hopefully by this summer we’ll be back up and running on our well,” said town manager Schumata Brown.

If left unattended, experts say PFAS could prove costly for the fishing industry in the state.

“PFAS likes to float at the surface, you know, it’s like oil and water. It doesn’t like to mix up what is floating at the surface right now and the coast of North Carolina many of the shellfish being raised are being raised on the surface of water,” said Rider. “I think this is really an important, you know, type of contamination in our water to really monitor as it relates to our fisheries.”

EPA Administrator Michael Regan held a press conference and roundtable in Maysville on Monday where he announced $2 billion in federal funding has been dedicated to enhancing water treatment technology throughout rural communities across the country to help fight the spread of PFAS.