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A seminar for environmental leaders & advocates


images courtesy Tim Stallmann
  
Tuesday, March 5, 2013: 
Maps, Images & Video: from Data to Action


 Rhodes C
onference Room, Sanford School of Public Policy
Duke University, 302 Towerview Drive, Durham, NC


8:30 am   Sign-in and introductions 


9:00 am - 11:15 am 
Presentations
Social Equity and Environmental Risk
Allan Parnell, Demographer & VP, Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities 

Putting a Face on Your Data
Ana Duncan Pardo, Communications Coordinator, Toxic Free North Carolina

Community Mapping -- Techniques for sharing data and building power
Tim Stallmann, Freelance Cartographer & GIS Analyst; member of 3C's - the Counter-Cartographies Collective
11:30 am  Discussion & Assignment

ASSIGNMENT: Investigate your community's major industrial polluters and their political influence

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Register now
Enter registration code: ecoadv


Click here to read about our speakers

 


   UNC requests extension to respond to DWQ requirements

January 2013- UNC has received an extension until January 31, 2013 to respond to the NC Division of Water Quality's hearing officer's report.  The report and accompanying letter from state regulators require UNC to disclose pollutants and water use, analyze wastewater, improve safety, monitoring and public notification, and reduce proposed water use at the UNC Animal Research Facility in southwest Orange County.  Click on the link to view a video of the August 22, 2012 public hearing attended by 100+ concerned citizens at the White Cross Recreation Center.

Click on links to view the video of the August 22, 2012 public hearing, DWQ hearing officer's report (large 37 MB file) and the letter from NC DWQ to UNC Vice Chancellor Karol Kain Gray.


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NC DWQ to UNC Animal Research Facility:
Disclose pollutants and annual water use; analyze wastewater; improve safety, monitoring and public notification; reduce proposed water use.

December 6, 2012--The North Carolina Division of Water Quality (DWQ) has issued the hearing officer's report (large file) for the August 22, 2012 hearing on a wastewater permit application for UNC 's Animal Research Facility in rural Orange County.  Click on the link to for a video of the August 2012 DWQ public hearing.

Click on links to read the DWQ hearing officer's report (large 37 MB file) and the letter from NC DWQ to UNC Vice Chancellor Karol Kain Gray.

Before deciding whether to issue a permit, DWQ sent a letter to UNC Vice Chancellor Gray requesting a response by January 5, 2013.  For more details and links to public documents, go to the UNC Animal Research Facility web page.

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Beginning in the fall of 2012, Preserve Rural Orange (PRO) is offering EcoAdvocate seminars, a series of professional training sessions for North Carolina Triangle-area advocates. This pilot project will advance environmental protection efforts by offering advocates a unique set of skills to create compelling campaigns and convey key information to the media, decision-makers and citizens on complex issues, policies and decisions.

The seminar series is offered free of charge, funded by a grant from the Park Foundation.

Led by panels of editors, journalists, lawyers, environmental leaders, communications experts and cartographers, participants will learn how to conduct investigations, access public records and build powerful, effective campaigns that provide media and stakeholders with pertinent information in time to make a difference, facilitating citizen involvement in issues and pending decisions.

Thursday, November 29, 2012:
 

Investigative Reporting seminar

Featured speakers:

Lisa Sorg
, Editor, Independent Weekly
Sue Sturgis, Editorial Director, Institute for Southern Studies
Ryan Thornburg, Assistant Professor, UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication

For more information, visit the EcoAdvocate website or send email to: ecoadvocate@preserveruralorange.org

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PRESERVE RURAL ORANGE ASKS NC ATTORNEY GENERAL & STATE AUDITOR TO INVESTIGATE UNC ACQUIRING RURAL PROPERTIES WHILE PUBLIC APPEALS TO COUNTY AND STATE OFFICIALS WERE STILL PENDING



Click on links for news release and map.  For more information go to UNC Animal Research Facility web page


Orange County, NC, September 24, 2012—The citizen nonprofit Preserve Rural Orange (PRO) has asked North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and State Auditor Beth Wood to investigate recent acquisitions of rural property by the University of North Carolina’s Animal Research Facility in Bingham Township.
          

        Earlier this month UNC Vice Chancellor Bob Lowman sent an email message to PRO and facility neighbors announcing that UNC had acquired an 8.32-acre property on Maynard Farm Road and planned to acquire an additional 10.56 acres.  University officials first requested the acquisition on April 18, 2012 and closed on the property on September 6, 2012 without disclosing to the State Property Office that appeals made by the seller to the Orange County Board of Adjustment (BOA) and North Carolina Division of Water Quality (DWQ) were pending. 
[more]

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PUBLIC HEARING: NC DIVISION OF WATER QUALITY
Wednesday August 22nd, 7:00 pm (register at 6:30)
White Cross Recreation Center
1800 White Cross Road, Chapel Hill, NC
                      [map]

MORE INFORMATION

For more information, visit the Meetings and Events page or contact PRO at: info@preserveruralorange.org



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PRO Tree Planting at Maple View Farm Agricultural Center           
   

On Saturday December 17th, 2011 Preserve Rural Orange members were joined by Bob Nutter of Maple View Farm, Orange County Commissioner Steve Yuhasz and visitors for a tree planting ceremony at Maple View Farm’s Agricultural Educational Center on Dairyland Road.  PRO's Tree of Wishes was conceived of by local artist Sarah Cornette, inspired by Yoko Ono's Imagine Peace/Wish Tree Project. Bob Nutter and Allison Nichols of Maple View Farm lent support to the project, generously providing a permanent site to plant and care for the tree.

Contact the Maple View Ag Center and arrange a time to add your hopes and dreams for Orange County’s future to the Tree of Wishes, a maple tree now planted at the Ag Center for visitors and students to enjoy.


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CELEBRATING 3 YEARS OF SUCCESSFUL OUTCOMES

Growing out of a grassroots community response to potential plans for a university airport on rural land in 2008, volunteer organizers established Preserve Rural Orange (PRO) as a nonprofit in 2009.

PRO conducts thorough research, tracking changing issues, identifying environmental and economic impacts of proposed developments, raising public awareness and urging sustainable, cost-effective alternatives to plans that would
affect watershed land, woodlands and farms in Orange County, North Carolina.  

             Run entirely by volunteers on a very modest budget, in three years PRO has brought together hundreds of citizens to lead three highly effective public campaigns:

UNC Airport   (2008-2011)

Grassroots campaign leads to University of North Carolina Chancellor Thorp canceling plans in 2009 to  build a publicly funded airport that would serve primarily special interests on watershed & agricultural land; UNC airport authority legislation is repealed by NC General Assembly in 2011

 Waste Transfer Station   (2009)

Public pressure deters Orange County from building a waste transfer station on large, costly wetland property, urging county to seek sustainable alternatives

 UNC Animal Research Facility  (2010)

PRO exposes a series of animal wastewater spills, equipment failures, noncompliance and violations of county, state and federal regulations, leading to UNC returning $14.5 million in NIH stimulus funds, canceling large-scale expansion plans, acknowledging undisclosed wetlands on site, and improving UNC communications with neighbors

             Preserve Rural Orange has rapidly become a valued resource for citizens, businesses, nonprofits and government leaders.  The organization posts news updates with vital information to over 500 subscribers and thousands of website visitors, and PRO’s leadership is frequently consulted by community activists seeking strategies for organizing.

             PRO has been influential in engaging thousands of Orange County citizens, offering proactive, timely information on upcoming decisions and plans. The group’s strength has been in promoting constructive dialogue and offering opportunities for meaningful input into issues affecting the rural environment and public health.


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September 28, 2011

UNC Research Facility plans proceed without notice to neighbors

    Despite UNC administrators’ stated commitment to notify neighbors and PRO of all communications with the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and to post public documents on UNC’s Bingham Facility web page, neither neighbors nor PRO were notified when UNC submitted a permit modification application to the DENR Division of Water Quality for its wastewater systems on August 16, 2011.  UNC's Bingham web page has not been updated since 2010.
  To make this information publicly available, PRO will scan and post UNC's application documents on the PRO website- hundreds of pages of designs, specifications and maps.

Items of concern- UNC's wastewater proposal:
 
  • Wastewater spray fields in open field on main road facing homes, livestock and school bus stop
  • New higher acreage footprint for spray fields out of proportion to proposed water use
  • Size, location and proximity of wastewater lagoons to wetlands and Collins Creek
  • Past and future impacts of wastewater and contaminants on soil, wetlands, Collins Creek, watershed, and neighboring wells are untested and unknown
  • Storage and disposal of dry bedding for lab animals, including rodents and potentially dogs and swine
  • Truck traffic for waste removal
  • Relocation of new propane tanks above Collins Creek
  • No water storage on site for fire protection
  • Infrastructure for possible future expansion

Background
 
    In mid-September PRO learned of the university’s August application to DWQ for a major modification to their non-discharge wastewater permit for the UNC Research Facility, as well as of a site plan UNC is developing to submit to the Orange County Planning Department for approval. PRO only became aware of these actions after contacting the state and county directly. Two days ago UNC Associate Vice Chancellor Bob Lowman disclosed that two additional DENR applications for stormwater management and erosion control permits were also recently submitted and approved without UNC notifying PRO or neighbors.
 
    This week PRO Board Chair Laura Streitfeld and Vice Chair Tom Schopler met with Bob Lowman at UNC for an update on new plans to expand the wastewater system and spray fields at the UNC Research Facility.  At PRO’s invitation, Orange County Planning Director Craig Benedict and County Commissioner Steve Yuhasz also attended, offering useful clarifications and suggesting ways UNC could be more responsive to requests for proactive communication and disclosure by county residents. Bob Lowman scheduled the meeting in response to PRO’s inquiry about undisclosed plans for new infrastructure at the UNC facility. UNC is now planning to hold a community meeting in October for another update on facility plans.
 
    It is both disappointing and troubling to learn that UNC moved ahead seeking permits and bids for new infrastructure without notifying the community, and before rectifying ongoing issues resulting from the series of illegal wastewater discharges, equipment failures, and violations on UNC’s watershed land that began in October 2009. While university administrators agreed to test neighbors’ well water and to test the impact of water draws on neighboring wells, almost two years later testing protocols have not yet been developed.

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UNC AIRPORT AUTHORITY LEGISLATION REPEALED

June 25, 2011-- Legislation authorizing the University of North Carolina to establish an airport authority was repealed on Thursday, June 23, 2011 when Governor Bev Perdue signed into law the Government Reduction Act.  Senate Bill 593 eliminates “certain state boards and commissions that have not met recently, are duplicative or are not deemed critical.”  Included in the list of items to be abolished is legislation enabling the UNC Board of Governors to create an airport authority and build an airport in Orange County.  NC Representatives Verla Insko and Joe Hackney, and NC Senator Ellie Kinnaird initiated adding the UNC airport authority legislation to the bill.  
    In August of 2008 NC Senate Bill 1925 was signed into law, authorizing the UNC Board of Governors to establish an airport authority empowered to identify a site within Orange County, take land by eminent domain, and oversee construction of an airport.  The site was limited to Orange County despite a UNC-funded study that found Raleigh Durham Airport in Wake County to be the most feasible location to replace the university's Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill. At the time, UNC planned to spend $50 to $100 million in public funds on a new regional airport to be used primarily for private interests.  Two thirds of the 15-seat authority would have been controlled by UNC, UNC Health Care and NC General Assembly appointees, with one third appointed by the county and towns. 

     Beginning in August 2008, hundreds of Orange County residents opposed to UNC’s airport plans contacted local, state and federal officials, commenting on the flawed process behind the legislation, high projected costs and negative impacts on residents, the environment and local farms.  After reviewing all the facts related to setting up the airport authority and the potential use of eminent domain to site and build a UNC airport, in January of 2009 UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp decided not to proceed with seating the authority, with concurrence from UNC System President Erskine Bowles.  Instead, Thorp and UNC committed to building a $3 million hangar at RDU for relocating UNC’S Area Health Education Center (AHEC) flight operations from Horace Williams Airport.  AHEC operations are currently preparing to move into the newly completed hangar at RDU.     County residents and Preserve Rural Orange board members Tom Schopler and Cliff Leath met recently with Insko, Hackney, and Kinnaird, and this week applauded the Orange County delegation’s accomplishment of repealing the airport authority legislation and praised Chancellor Thorp’s leadership in putting the issue to rest. 
     Since PRO was founded in 2009, our members have been engaged in productive discussions with government and university leaders to seek sustainable, cost-saving alternatives to damaging development.  

   Upon learning of Senate Bill 593's passage, Cliff Leath remarked, “The repeal of the airport authority legislation gives us all a cause to rejoice and thank our legislators for listening to us.  It also reminds us that people working together for the common good can and do make a difference.  The formation of Preserve Rural Orange, meetings held at White Cross Community Center, petitions that neighbors signed, news articles and letters to the editor, and communication efforts by Orange County Voice, local businesses and other community groups were all a testament to our resolve over this issue.”
   PRO thanks community members who helped with this effort.  Without their support, encouragement, activism and involvement, this successful outcome would not be possible.


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Preserve Rural Orange
- Highlights of 2010

    At the end of another eventful year, we would like to thank everyone who supports Preserve Rural Orange with contributions, resources, valued input and expertise.  We appreciate all that we have been able to accomplish throughout our second year as an organization run entirely by volunteers with the mission of protecting watershed land, woodlands and farms for generations to come. 

Some highlights of 2010:

PRO research and persistent communications with UNC leaders result in meetings throughout the year to discuss previously undisclosed operations, wastewater spills, malfunctions and expansion plans at UNC's Research Resource Facility in Bingham Township.

New leadership and resources are assigned by UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp to assess damage and clean up animal research facility operations, following a series of wastewater leaks and public pressure for more responsible stewardship of the 56-acre UNC property.

Neighbors, county officials and media  are invited to tour UNC animal research facility property for the first time.

PRO connects with regional environmental organizations- Haw River Assembly and Clean Water for North Carolina- to request improved oversight of UNC facility's wastewater systems by the NC Division of Water Quality.

Under public pressure, UNC shuts down failing and improperly built equipment at UNC research facility: wastewater systems cease operations when dozens of leaks are identified in lagoon liners; toxic solvents are cleaned out of the septic system; an aging incinerator used for campus medical waste is decommissioned and removed from the site.

UNC returns $14.5 million in stimulus funds to the NIH and scales back expansion plans when it becomes clear that the research facility is not shovel ready due to failing infrastructure and mounting costs of addressing environmental concerns.

PRO initiates key meetings with Orange County Commission for the Environment; NC Division of Water Quality Director Coleen Sullins and staff; US Congressman David Price; UNC Trustee and Buildings & Grounds Committee Chair Phillip Clay; and White Cross Fire Department Fire Chief Jerry Lloyd and leadership with UNC Campus Fire Marshal Billy Mitchell and UNC administrators.

UNC Associate Vice Chancellor Bob Lowman commits to meeting twice monthly to update neighbors and solicit feedback on changing facility plans.

PRO joins Clean Water Coalition of Orange County opposing damaging impacts of logging, clearcuts and herbicide applications proposed in OWASA's draft Forestry Management Plan.

Excellent media coverage of environmental and public health issues threatening rural Orange County including multiple wastewater spills, chemical contamination, violations and changing plans at the UNC animal research facility, impacts of sewage sludge spread on rural properties, and OWASA's forestry plan calling for logging, clearcuts and herbicides on public watershed land.

    This year we experienced our community's growing strength and leadership as informed, engaged citizens once again brought about greater accountability and transparency through public campaigns focused on protecting our environment and public health.  Looking ahead, Preserve Rural Orange is embarking on a fundraising campaign in 2011 to sustain and expand research, outreach and communications capabilities.  Please contact us at info@preserveruralorange.org if you would like to make a donation.  With your support, we look forward to providing more opportunities for meaningful and timely participation in decisions affecting rural Orange County.

Best wishes for the new year,

-Laura Streitfeld
Chair, Preserve Rural Orange Board of Directors


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News Update--January 23, 2010
 
UNC Research Facility
Wastewater Spill in Collins Creek

 
     Over the past week we have learned increasingly alarming details about animal wastewater spilling into Collins Creek from a 1.6 million gallon storage lagoon at the UNC Research Resource Facility in Bingham Township.  Despite community members’ requests over the past several years for meetings, public records and proactive communication about facility safety and expansion plans, UNC representatives have responded with delayed communications, misrepresentations and only partial information long after incidents occurred. 
 
     Since October 2009, equipment at the facility has repeatedly failed: there was an incinerator fire and malfunction, an ongoing animal wastewater lagoon liner leak reported in December that spilled into Collins Creek in unknown volumes, a 630-gallon wastewater leak in November from pipes that were never bolted together, and a leak last week due to cracked valves (see DENR documents and photos of leaking wastewater).
 
     We are concerned about UNC’s lack of transparency and accountability, delay in reporting an illegal discharge to state authorities (see UNC correspondence), failure to alert neighbors who have repeatedly expressed concern precisely about these hazards, and construction and use of faulty equipment without a permit. These actions endanger public health and the watershed, and result in costly repairs.
 
     Earlier this week Preserve Rural Orange sent a Proposal to UNC administrators, with copies to Orange County commissioners and staff, outlining a series of steps to improve communications, transparency and protection of environmental and human health with regard to current operations and the $27 million expansion underway at the site. 
 
     This week the animal wastewater system was shut down to drain about 400,000 gallons from the lagoon and haul it offsite to OWASA, in order to find and repair the liner leak. UNC will pay OWASA more than $2,000 for handling the wastewater, and according to NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) estimates, hauling more than fifty truckloads of wastewater could cost UNC up to $30,000.

Click here for the full update on the UNC wastewater spill
 

What you can do:

Please join us in contacting UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp,
asking university leaders to engage in the public process suggested in our Proposal to UNC, and to take the following additional measures:
  1. Cease animal wastewater lagoon operations at the UNC Research Resource Facility until DENR concludes its investigation of the illegal discharge into Collins Creek, determines the system’s compliance and permit status, and confirms the safety of continued use
  2. Apply for a permit for the animal wastewater treatment and disposal system to ensure oversight and safeguards at the facility
  3. Provide neighbors, PRO and county officials with timely copies of communications and reports about this and future incidents
News articles:
UNC's wastewater worries Lisa Sorg, Independent Weekly, January 20, 2010
UNC warned after leak Mark Schultz, News and Observer, January 21, 2010
For more information and background, visit the UNC Research Facility page of this website.

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Janu
ary 12, 2010
  

Thank you from the Preserve Rural Orange Board of Directors 

    It’s been an amazing year in rural Orange County, with good news at both  beginning and end.  A year ago we were getting ready to open the “No Airport” photo exhibit on January 9th when UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp announced that the university would not convene an airport authority or pursue a new  airport in Orange County as planned, but would relocate flights to RDU.  Afterward we turned our attention to the county’s plans to build a waste transfer station site on Highway 54.  Eleven months later on December 7th, Orange County Commissioners decided not to build a new transfer station and instead send chose to trash to an existing facility in Durham and allow time to explore alternatives.   

    When we first began talking about how to stop UNC’s plans to build an  airport over a year ago, our discussion centered on how we would raise enough money to hire a lawyer.  A friend and environmental attorney counseled us to build our community first, and this turned out to be the best advice.  Fortunately  we never had to hire a lawyer at all, and at every step of the way when we looked for help, we found what we needed close to home.    

    Even as we collectively researched, raised legitimate concerns and came together to oppose plans that would have transformed the rural landscape, none of us could have imagined how much we would accomplish in such a short time.   And none of it would have been possible without our uniquely resourceful community....[read more]


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ORANGE COUNTY TO USE DURHAM TRANSFER STATION

Bingham Township and Millhouse Road communities are spared

December 7, 2009--Orange County Manager Frank Clifton recommended, and county commissioners voted tonight to formalize an arrangement to send solid waste to the City of Durham's Transfer Station for 3 to 5 years, and to consider waste-disposal options including regional solutions and other possible collaborations.  The meeting was packed with county residents, and after the county manager's recommendation there were many impassioned public comments mostly in opposition to the other two options, the Paydarfar site off Millhouse Road and the Howell property on Highway 54 in Bingham Township.  Before commissioners made their decision, BOCC Chair Valerie Foushee expressed gratitude to citizens for input throughout the site selection process.

Commissioner Barry Jacobs made the following motion:
  1. Proceed with an agreement with assurances about reducing waste and promoting recycling
  2. Amend the current inter-local agreement and get the best possible rate for the county and towns
  3. Re-engage towns
  4. Direct county staff and solid waste advisory board to engage in a public process to seek cost-effective alternatives, with a framework beginning no sooner than September 2010
  5. No additional funds will be spent on consultants unless county commissioners direct staff to do so
        Mike Nelson added a friendly amendment to exclude sites in the Rogers/Eubanks/Millhouse community from future consideration.  The motion passed 6-1 with Steve Yuhasz voting against it.  He commented that he didn't want to take anything off the table.

        For more than a year our community has done an excellent job staying informed and engaged in this issue, which came directly on the heels of the proposed UNC airport last year.  Thank you to community members and supporters, and to local churches and businesses who continue to help spread the word about meetings and news affecting rural residents.  Thanks to all of your efforts our watershed land, farms and woodlands will be spared for now from becoming an industrial corridor.  More to come on protecting Bingham Township from damaging development in the future.

        I'd also like to acknowledge Orange County staff and officials who throughout the past year shared their expertise, responded thoughtfully to our questions and comments, and fulfilled requests for public documents promptly.  While the issue of how Orange County will dispose of its waste long-term is not resolved, tonight's decision sets us on a more sustainable and positive course for Bingham Township and for the county at large.

-Laura Streitfeld


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UNC Research Facility Expansion in the News

   The November 11, 2009 Independent Weekly features the article, "UNC research facility flies under the radar: What are they building in there?" following an investigation by editor Lisa Sorg into UNC-Chapel Hill's plans for a $27 million expansion of the UNC Research Resource Facility in Bingham Township.  To learn more about the lab animal facility's operations, its  impacts on neighbors and the environment and the status of our public records request submitted to the university, visit the UNC Research Facility page of this website.

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Please join community members opposing a waste transfer station in Bingham Township

Questions remain about the Highway 54 site:
•    Costs to county and towns
•    Environmental impacts

•    Driving routes & disposal location
•    Future plans for proposed site
•    Consultant’s conflict of interest
In our May 14, 2009 letter to Orange County Commissioners there is a detailed list of significant information that has not yet been disclosed regarding the Highway 54 site. 

Please continue to contact county commissioners
, Orange County Planning Director Craig Benedict and Solid Waste Director Gayle Wilson with questions and concerns regarding the potential siting of a waste transfer station in Bingham Township.
 
Preserve Rural Orange opposes a waste transfer station in Bingham Township
that would irrevocably transform a rural and agricultural community into an industrial zone.  Given environmental impacts and costs to taxpayers, county and towns, Bingham Township sites should be removed from consideration for a transfer station.   The following should be considered in siting a transfer station: costs; interstate & rail access; proximity to the source of waste generation; location in industrial or commercial zone; and water and sewer services. 
We will continue to urge the county to identify sustainable waste disposal solutions.

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Waste Transfer Station
  
For documents detailing the progress of Orange County's proposed transfer station sites on Highway 54 West in Bingham Township, go to the Waste Transfer Station page of our website. 

Please also look at notices of upcoming meetings on our Meetings & Events page.

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Spring 2009 Newsletter

    We hope you will find useful information in this Preserve Rural Orange newsletter.  Contents include a recap of accomplishments during our first six months, photos, opportunities for involvement, upcoming meetings, and a timeline of steps to be taken as we transition into a nonprofit organizational structure.

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Steering Committee Nominations

    Please submit your nominations for
our expanding Steering Committee.  Click here for a printable nomination form.  Nominations may be sent to our mailing address below or by email to:  admin@preserveruralorange.org

Preserve Rural Orange
Post Office Box 1314
Carrboro, NC 27510


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Visit to the Greensboro Waste Transfer Station

To read and listen to WCHL 1360 AM coverage of Orange County Commissioners’ February 12, 2009 visit to the City of Greensboro Waste Transfer Station, click below:
OC Commissioners Eye Triad Transfer Station

                 
Above left:
Trash being dumped inside the transfer station.  Above right: Commissioner Steve Yuhasz and
Greensboro Environmental Services Director Jeri Covington.  In the background are trailers and petroleum tanks.
    Photos by Laura Streitfeld                                      

February 13, 2009
Laura Streitfeld - PRO Steering Committee
 
        Yesterday morning I visited the City of Greensboro’s Waste Transfer Station, on a trip planned for new Orange County Commissioners.  I rode in a van from Hillsborough with commissioners Pam Hemminger, Bernadette Pelissier and Steve Yuhasz, Orange County’s Solid Waste Director Gayle Wilson and Solid Waste Planner Blair Pollock, and reporters from the News and Observer, WCHL 1360 AM, and a student reporter and camera person from UNC.  When we arrived at the station we were joined by Bonnie Hauser and Susan Walser of Orange County Voice and Forrest Covington, who is working on a video project with Bonnie Hauser. While at the site I took photos and video.


        City of Greensboro Environmental Services Director Jeri Covington talked with us and answered questions about the city’s landfill and waste management history and the transfer station’s financing, construction and operations, then took us for a tour inside on the floor, where operations were slowed down for us to walk around.  Like the proposed Orange County station, the two-story Greensboro station is entirely enclosed. Inside there was a thick dust in the air that clouded some of my photos, stirred up by the wind blowing in and by the constant motion of trucks and earthmoving equipment driving in and out, dumping and pushing trash across the floor.  The smell was not as strong as I anticipated, but walking through the dusty interior I did get a vivid picture of how traffic, noise and airborne particles from an entire county’s waste would affect the ecosystem and watershed in southwest Orange County.

        In selecting a site, Jeri Covington noted that they looked for property close to the interstate and near rail lines in an industrial zone.  As we saw on our drive in, the station is close to an I-40 exit and and surrounded in all directions by petroleum tanks which Covington called “tank fields.”  When it was built in 2005, the Greensboro facility’s cost of construction was $9 million, and the cost of the ten acre property, which Covington said was too small, was over $800,000.  She described the station’s funding as a “hybrid,” explaining that they receive funds from city taxes and from tipping fees for taking trash from outside municipalities and companies.  At the Greensboro station, garbage is dropped from the upper floor into tractor-trailers below and hauled to the Uwharrie Regional Landfill in Mt. Gilead, North Carolina.

        The visit and the van ride were both informative.  On the way to Greensboro I spoke with Pam Hemminger, and learned about her background, school board experience and new role as a commissioner.  Riding back, Gayle Wilson and Blair Pollock shared their expertise on a broad array of waste management and recycling issues, answering Steve Yuhasz’s and my questions.  Wilson discussed the future of the county’s collection centers on Bradshaw Quarry Road and Ferguson Road, one or both of which could close if a collection center were built on the Howell property near the proposed transfer station.

        My purpose in visiting the station with the commissioners was to bring back information that would be useful to county residents.  At our upcoming meeting on March 1st, PRO members and speakers will share more about recent developments on waste transfer issue.  Please feel free to contact us with questions or comments at: info@preserveruralorange.org

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NO AIRPORT CAMPAIGN A SUCCESS

Reprieve for rural Orange County community

January 9, 2009--In a press conference this morning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp announced that he has asked the UNC Board of Governors not to create an airport authority to build a new airport in Orange County, and that the university will move its flight operations to Raleigh-Durham Airport. Cliff Leath, Tom Schopler and Laura Streitfeld represented PRO at the press conference in South Building.
Thorp's statement

PRO would like to thank local residents and businesses for your persistence and support in bringing this about.  All of the petitions, meetings, letters, phone calls,  donations, signs and bumper stickers, with ongoing local media investigation and coverage, have led to this very positive accomplishment in protecting our rural community. 


PRO Community Meeting
October 27, 2008
Photo by Greg Rapp

While we are pleased with Chancellor Thorp's decision, we are continuing to look into options regarding the status of the existing NC Senate Bill 1925, which authorized creating a UNC airport authority.
To contact your state legislators, click on the link below:
NC Legislators

For more information and current news on the UNC airport issue, come to our March 1st community meeting, or visit the News and Links pages on the PRO website.
DWQ issues draft wastewater permit for UNC facility with conditions

On March 11, 2013, the NC Division of Water Quality issued a draft wastewater permit for the UNC Animal Research Facility.  Thanks to input from more than fifty concerned community members, the new draft permit includes more stringent conditions requiring increased monitoring, water testing, reporting, public notification, and safeguards in the wastewater system. 


For more information, click on the link to the UNC Animal Research Facility page.
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