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The Daily Tar Heel

Waterworld, UNC style: After negligence by UNC, Orange County must step in to oversee Bingham Research Resource Facility

Given UNC’s recurrent inability to avoid unsafe wastewater leaks at the Bingham Research Resource Facility, the county should step in and take some of the responsibility for overseeing its operations.

Since last November, the facility has leaked treated animal wastewater into surrounding grounds multiple times, including one incident in which 630 gallons of wastewater was released. The leaks occurred at Collins Creek, which eventually empties into Jordan Lake, a reservoir that serves the local area.

Residents near the western Orange County facility are understandably alarmed by the potential health risks posed by the facility’s cavalier operations. Although the research facility is run by UNC, the wastewater leaks affect Orange County residents. Therefore, the facility should be overseen by and made accountable to county officials.

If there had been just one leak or even two, and UNC had taken appropriate steps to remedy the problem, a case could be made that the University is capable of taking care of itself.

But there have been at least four reported incidents. Clearly something is not working, and rather than wait for UNC to untangle this mess, the county should assuage the concerns of people residing near the facility by accepting oversight responsibilities.

Residents of Orange County should be able to live free from concern that treated wastewater leaks from a nearby research facility will pollute their land and water.

UNC has proven incapable of providing this assurance to people living near the Collins Creek facility. Orange County officials need to monitor the activities of the Research Resource Facility to ensure there are no future hazardous leaks.

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