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" asked committee Senior Chairman Ted Davis, R-New Hanover.

"Is it accurate for the newspapers or anybody else to say that it’s toxic? Pat Mc Elraft, R-Carteret, comparing the situation to the state's warning about hexavalent chromium in wells near coal ash ponds in 2015.

Department of Environmental Quality Assistant Secretary Sheila Holman was at the podium for more than two hours, explaining the federal and state regulatory framework for water pollution and reporting on the agency's actions so far to manage Gen X and other manmade compounds sometimes referred to as emerging contaminants.

Several committee members said they couldn't understand why it had taken so long for Gen X contamination in the Cape Fear River to come to the state's attention.

It was not going to enter the water," Culpepper told the committee.

"We learned in June of this year that this Gen X material is actually a byproduct of a different manufacturing line that's been going on for 30 years.

The primary target of lawmakers' criticism Thursday was not DEQ.

It was "the news media" that was repeatedly blamed for "sensationalizing" and "misinforming" the public about the Gen X problem.

That's when we became aware that it was being discharged into the water." As a byproduct of the manufacture of a different chemical, Gen X was not subject to regulation in the 2009 wastewater permit for Chemours, the Du Pont spinoff that dumped the chemical into the Cape Fear River from its Fayetteville Works plant, Holman explained. 23, North Carolina State University researcher Detlef Knappe sent an email to 19 DEQ staffers, drawing their attention to a paper he and colleagues had published on perfluorinate contamination in the Cape Fear River, including Gen X.

The list included Holman's predecessor as assistant secretary, Tom Reeder, now on the staff of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, and several senior staff who remain at the agency.

— State House lawmakers tasked with investigating river quality and regulation in North Carolina got a sobering introduction Thursday to the scope of the challenge.

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