Wilmington

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality announced today it has cited Chemours with violating the conditions of its wastewater discharge permit.  The move comes after the company failed to report an October 6 chemical spill at its Fayetteville Works facility on the Cape Fear River.  UPDATE: The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality began the process Nov. 16 of revoking the discharge permit for Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility. 

The City of Wilmington will see Mayor Bill Saffo embark on his sixth term. He defeated challenger Todd Zola with about 85 percent of the vote.

The Town Council is Oak Island’s governing body consisting of 5 Council Members and the Mayor. This body sets Town policy, enacts ordinances and adopts the annual budget. There are seven people running for two open seats. Oak Island has a population estimated at 7,700 people. In the summer, including day-trippers, that number can hit 50,000. According to the U.S. Census, the town has grown by 13.5 percent since 2010. 

The City of Wilmington and New Hanover County are joining forces to consider legal action against those they consider to be responsible for the deadly opioid epidemic facing this region. The North Carolina Department of Health says that opioid deaths have increased 73 percent statewide and doubled in New Hanover County over the last decade. 

The Town of Oak Island, part of Brunswick County, is governed by a Council of five and a mayor. As of 2016, population estimates landed at about 7700 people. According to the U.S. Census, the town has grown by 13.5 percent since 2010. Two people are running for mayor in this year’s election. Kenny Rogers is challenging Mayor Cin Brochure as she seeks her second term. A big issue for Oak Island is erosion.

Two people are hoping to be the next mayor of the City of Southport. In 2010, the City boasted a population of slightly more than 2,800. Today, the Census Bureau estimates that about 3,600 people call Southport home. In 2015, the last municipal election year in North Carolina, Jerry Dove ran against Joe Pat Hatem. Jerry Dove won the seat by 79 votes or a difference of about 7%.  This year it’s a rematch.

Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO, popularly known as H2GO, is a water and sewer utility in Brunswick County that serves the northeast portion of the County including Leland, Belville, parts of Navassa, and some customers located outside of these municipal boundaries. Since 2011, the utility has worked towards building its own Reverse Osmosis plant. Constructing a $30-plus million plant is controversial and has its opponents. Three of the candidates oppose the plant.

Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO, popularly known as H2GO, is a water and sewer utility in Brunswick County that serves the northeast portion of the County including Leland, Belville, parts of Navassa, and some customers located outside of these municipal boundaries. Since 2011, the utility has worked towards building its own Reverse Osmosis plant. Constructing a $30-plus million plant is controversial with opponents concerned the project is not necessary and would saddle consumers with higher utility rates. Three candidates are in support of the plant.

In the race for Wilmington’s City Council, there are nine people competing for three open seats that carry four-year terms. Two incumbents are seeking re-election. Deb Hays is the current Chair of the City of Wilmington Planning Commission, James Ray is Associate Minister of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Wilmington, and Perry Fisher ran his own restaurant, Front Street News, before moving to broadcast journalism. 

Vince Winkel / WHQR

Dallas, Texas is about to get a lot closer to Wilmington. American Airlines just announced they will be operating non-stop flights between Dallas and Wilmington International Airport beginning in December. However the new flights are not permanent.

Vince Winkel / WHQR

On Tuesday night the Wilmington City Council is expected to adopt the Cape Fear Regional Bicycle Plan. The new initiative is supported by a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.  The goal is to improve the region for all types of cyclists.

Vince Winkel / WHQR

The New Hanover County Commissioners will soon vote on Project Grace, a redevelopment project in downtown Wilmington at the location of the New Hanover County Library and 2nd Street Parking Deck.  The parking deck would stay, but everything else could drastically change.

NWS

It now appears that Hurricane Irma will head north by northwest, and not hit the Cape Fear region. The latest track has the powerful storm moving west after a direct hit on Florida this weekend. 

Vince Winkel / WHQR

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality this week urged Chemours to stop discharging two additional chemical compounds into the Cape Fear River. EPA scientists told the state they have identified two compounds they are calling Nafion byproducts 1 and 2.

Vince Winkel

A crowd gathered on 3rd Street at City Hall in Wilmington Saturday morning, to rally against GenX in the water and against Chemours. It came the last day that environmental activist Erin Brockovich and her film crew were in town. Brockovich missed this last scheduled event, where she was to speak, however others spoke loud and clear about this water crisis.

Vince Winkel / WHQR

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich is in town this week. She’s here to talk about GenX, and has brought a film crew of 15 with her to document her efforts. Last night, she spoke at UNCW’s Lumina Theater.  The forum was short on science, and long on cheerleading.

Vince Winkel / WHQR

There’s a new plan in the works for the land along Battleship Road, across the river from downtown Wilmington. It’s from the same developers who had pitched a plan to build fifteen large houses there. 

Vince Winkel / WHQR

Congressman David Rouzer met with New Hanover County and Wilmington city officials today, to discuss issues that impact the area and the country. At the top of the list for the Republican from North Carolina’s 7th District is opioid addiction. 

NCCF

The latest test results are in from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. On Wednesday the DEQ reported that concentrations of GenX in finished drinking water from the Cape Fear River continue to be below the state’s public health goal. 

GenX and the water has been burned into Wilmington’s consciousness for almost two months now. State and local agencies continue to test and analyze the region’s water supply. The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.–based non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on health and the environment, just released a drinking water database. It includes data from the Cape Fear region.

The state of North Carolina is now committing resources to support the Cape Fear Region in the challenge of GenX, and toxic discharges into the river. Governor Roy Cooper detailed that commitment during his Monday visit. He also mentioned a criminal investigation into Chemours, the company responsible for the chemicals in the water supply. However, it is not an investigation yet.

Brett Cottrell, New Hanover County

Governor Roy Cooper says Chemours will have to turn off the faucet. The DuPont spin-off will not get a permit to discharge GenX into the Cape Fear River. Cooper made that vow at a meeting yesterday in Wilmington with local and state officials.

Governor Roy Cooper says Chemours will not get a permit to discharge GenX into the Cape Fear River.  That promise came at a meeting this morning in Wilmington with local and state officials.  Leaders from the area have been pressing for state help since the Star News first reported on the compromised drinking water supply last month.

Governor Roy Cooper will be in Wilmington Monday, to discuss how the state can help with the GenX situation. It’s been almost seven weeks since the public first learned about the discharge of GenX and other chemical compounds by the Chemours company, in the Cape Fear River.  

Vince Winkel / WHQR

This week Gov. Roy Cooper told the EPA to get to work. In a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Gov. Cooper asks the EPA to move quickly to finalize its health assessment and set a limit for the unregulated chemical GenX. Meanwhile the EPA earmarked more than $3 million for the NC DEQ to enforce the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. This all happened as county and city officials held a press conference on the topic of GenX.  

Vince Winkel / WHQR

State officials are releasing the first results of water quality samples and an updated preliminary health assessment for concentrations of the unregulated compound GenX in finished, or treated, drinking water. Samples were analyzed at the U.S. EPA lab in Research Triangle Park, and at Test America, a lab in Colorado under contract to Chemours. The latest results mirror those from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, with levels in the 68 to 125 parts per trillion range. Is that cause for celebration? Not so fast.

Vince Winkel / WHQR

This week the GenX numbers began to filter in. Cape Fear River water test results from Brunswick County, and from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, show far lower concentrations of the chemical compound in both raw and treated water. The news is encouraging but many questions remain.

Vince Winkel / WHQR

Four of the top 25 cities in the country for opioid abuse are in North Carolina. Wilmington is number one, according to a report from Castlight Health, a San Francisco-based healthcare information company. 

Vince Winkel

New Hanover County Commissioners adopted a resolution Monday calling on Chemours to stop production of GenX. Brunswick County Commissioners adopted a resolution the same day -- asking Chemours to stop the discharge of the GenX chemical into the Cape Fear River.  That’s largely because  there is still a lot about GenX that we don’t know. It’s all about chemistry. Which means for many of us, it can be somewhat difficult to grasp.

Vince Winkel / WHQR

On Monday the state began taking water samples along the Cape Fear River, to determine the current levels of GenX in the water. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality will sample water from 12 locations. A lab in Colorado will then do the analysis. Once those levels are determined, scientists hope to determine what, if any, health effects GenX has had or could have on the citizens here.

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