No PFAS detected in one ENC river basin

MAYSVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – It was in 2019 when Duke University environmentalists discovered a substantial amount of PFAS chemicals in the pipelines of the water system in the town of Maysville.

Because of the significant levels of the so-called forever chemical, the town has been forced to pull water from the Jones County water supply.

Over the past three years, environmentalists and local waterkeepers have conducted several studies to determine where the chemicals first came from.

“Luckily it turns out there is not any detectable PFAS in the surface waters around Maysville,” said White Oak waterkeeper Riley Lewis.

“Yes! That was definitely some awesome news,” said Maysville Town Manager Schumata Brown.

“What we thought is that it might have been coming from you know isolated contamination,” he continued.

Large amounts of the invisible chemical – linked to a number of terminal illnesses – were first detected in the waterlines throughout the Town of Maysville in 2019.

The big question is, just where did it all come from?

“We’re still not sure exactly how the PFAS got into the well in Maysville. What we do know based on the chemical fingerprint is that it’s likely that the PFAS was from firefighting foam,” said Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at Duke University, Dr. Lee Ferguson.

“Then we had one house fire that was probably a couple of blocks away from the water plant it could have came from that it could have came from a training exercise we just wasn’t for sure,” said Brown.

In partnership with Duke University’s School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch has collected samples from White Oak and several rivers throughout Eastern Carolina.

“It’s really exciting to be involved in this study just because so little data and so little is known about this contaminant but it’s everywhere the more we study it the more we realize how big of a problem it is,” said Lewis.

And with this news and nearly $16 million expected in funding for the reconstruction of the water system, town officials are confident, once the work has come and gone, so will the chemicals and the problem.

“That’s huge for a town like us. I tell people if we can’t fix everything around here with that something’s wrong with us,” said Brown.

Brown says the town has purchased four new state-of-the-art water filtration systems that will be able to pull from a cleaner aquifer located 300 feet underground and is separated by two clay layers.

Brown believes that will also help further prevent the chances of PFAS contamination.

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