by Lisa Sorg
Who knew what when: The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources wants answers from UNC-Chapel Hill about the 53-day gap between the time workers at the Bingham Facility suspected a leak in a treated-wastewater storage pond and when the university notified environmental officials that said leak did occur.
The treated wastewater did flow into nearby Collins Creek, a violation of UNC’s discharge permit.
A letter from DENR to UNC (160kb, pdf denrletter24) stated that the state regulators are considering “enforcement action,” and asked for a response from the university.
Mary Beth Koza, director of UNC environment, health and safety, said the university is preparing a response to DENR. “We try to do everything in compliance,” she said.
Because of the discharge DENR revoked UNC’s “deemed permit status,” a general permit classification, and is requiring the university to apply for an individual discharge permit. UNC has until early March to submit its application.
There have been several malfunctions or leaks at the facility’s wastewater treatment ponds, which have raised questions about the quality of the construction. Koza would not address that issue, but added “We’re working with the contractors to fix the problem.”