A state environmental test of a well used in the Wrightsville Beach water supply system tested positive for the presence of GenX, a chemical byproduct that has been linked to cancer, town and state officials said.
The measurements of GenX fall below a health threshold established by the state. Still, Town Manager Tim Owens said that the well no. 11 will be taken out of service immediately while officials examine their options, which will likely include testing other town wells. Well no. 11 is located off Allens Lane in Wilmington, near the Harris Teeter grocery store off Wrightsville Ave.
“There are minimal traces, but it is present,” Owens said.
In three tests of the well, conducted by both the state Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, between 24 and 28 parts-per-trillion of GenX were discovered in the well. The state health departments set a threshold of 140 parts-per-trillion.
“This updated health goal of 140 parts per trillion is expected to be the most conservative and health protective for non-cancer effects in bottle-fed infants, pregnant women, lactating women, children and adults. This health goal is lower than the health goal in the initial preliminary health assessment,” the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality said in a press release.
The Town of Wrightsville Beach is not on the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority water system, which draws water from the Cape Fear River. Instead, the town’s water supply is drawn from the underground Peedee Aquifer. However, well no. 11 is located about 3,500 feet from a CFPUA Aquifer Storage and Recovery well, or ASR, where water from the CFPUA system is pumped into the aquifer to be used later. The tests indicate that the water the CFPUA put into the ASR system flowed into the part of the aquifer where Wrightsville Beach draws its water.
“We were hoping that the water wouldn’t move laterally,” Owens said.