Florence bathed NC in raw sewage. New figures show it was even worse than we thought.

As Hurricane Florence was soaking the state (of North Carolina) in September, local creeks and rivers were swirling with germs, chemicals, sewage and other filth from sources that are usually stored safely and not a threat to public health.

Polluted flood waters swamped coal ash ponds at power plants. Rising waters engulfed private septic systems in back yards. The unwholesome mix inundated hog waste lagoons on farms. And the torrent overwhelmed municipal waste water treatment plants in towns large and small.

In some cases these waste-handling facilities took on so much water they experienced structural damage and partially collapsed, disgorging their contents into the flood.

Hearing and reading about those scenarios got Michael Piracci, an Orange County IT worker, wondering about the plight of waste water treatment plants, which process human waste. He was curious about how many experienced failures, the consequences of those malfunctions, and their impact on the environment and on public health.

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