Things have gotten pretty smelly in the aftermath of Florence. North Carolina is the second-largest hog-farming state in the country, home to 3,300 “hot lagoons” that house the animals’ waste in order to eventually be converted for the purposes of fertilizer. North Carolina is now facing overflows from the hog waste collection sites in several parts of the state. According to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), 13 hog lagoons topped over from the storm, sending waste into surrounding areas.
Officials say that the game isn’t over, for as rivers continue to rise, perhaps up to an additional thirty lagoons could follow the same fate. One such rising river is the Neuse River, which follows along the town of New Bern. The flow from the Neuse flooded farms, homes, and businesses, leaving an unpleasant stench of hog waste in its path.
Duplin County, which sits 60 miles from Wilmington, was another county that suffered from a lagoon overflow. The land-lying land is vulnerable to flooding. “An on-site inspection showed that solids remained in the lagoon,” the pork council said. The council did not elaborate on what steps were being taken to manage the crisis.
As The Guardian explains, this is not the first issue that Carolina residents have faced with the hot-farming industry. “Activists have campaigned against the collection of hog waste for years. The hog industry collects the feces before spraying it on to fields as fertilizer, creating a lingering stench. In July, Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, was ordered to pay $473.5m to people who live near three of its North Carolina farms after residents brought a case against the issues they encountered from the sewage.”
Residents and environmental activists alike are also concerned of the impact from toxic coal ash, which has been released in huge amounts (200,000 tons in the town of Conway, SC), from burning coal at power plants. Coal ash is toxic because of the mercury and arsenic it contains.
Sources: The Guardian, Mother Nature Network