North Carolina lawmakers working on PFAS bill to charge companies to cover cleanup

Monique John Image
Monday, June 17, 2024
NC lawmakers working on PFAS bill
People affected by PFAS in Cumberland County said they support the effort but some are still calling for even more to be done.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some state lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would force manufacturers emitting PFAS to pay to clean up their contamination of public utilities.

People affected by PFAS in Cumberland County said they support the effort but some are still calling for even more to be done.

Mike Watters of Gray's Creek tells ABC11 he first found out his water supply had PFAS back in 2017. He now has a PFAS monitor the state's Department of Environmental Quality installed in his backyard.

"The bucket that's up here captures rainwater and the other one catches dry air. So the idea is they they see if there is dry air disposition of any PFAS," he said.

WATCH | Our America: Trouble On Tap | Life with Forever Chemicals

Episode 1 of "Our America: Trouble On Tap" takes a look at per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination in North Carolina. We travel to Cape Fear, North Carolina, often referred to as ground zero for PFAS water contamination or water polluted by toxic "forever chemicals."

Watters tells ABC11 he's from one of about 50 families in his neighborhood that are filing lawsuits over damages they have sustained over being exposed to PFAS through their water. That's why Watters said he supports House Bill 864.

It's a bill that just passed in the House's Environment Committee. It requires PFAS manufacturers to pay to clean up the forever chemicals' contamination of public utilities.

The bill is now headed to a House appropriations committee. However, Watters points out that he and his neighbors would still need more intervention even if the bill passes. That's because they use private wells. Watters tells ABC11 that even with his filtration system, he and his family still only drink bottled water.

SEE ALSO | New standards on PFAS in drinking water aims to reduce illnesses, cancer, CDC says

The rule is the first national drinking water limit on toxic PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are widespread and long-lasting in the environment.

"People say, well, why don't you just leave the house? OK, so I leave the house and forfeit my job. I mean, you can't just walk out on a mortgage," Watters said.

Back in 2021, some lawmakers tried to a pass bill that would have required manufacturers pay to clean up contamination in public water systems and other impacted parties like those with private wells. But that bill died in the House the following year.

Watters urges lawmakers and the DEQ to stand up for those exposed to PFAS.

"Enforce the standards, enforce the laws," Watters said.