Tell the state to clean up industrial hog waste in North Carolina

Regulations overseeing how industrial-scale hog operations in North Carolina handle their waste are up for review and state officials are accepting public comment. Weigh in today. (© Waterkeeper Alliance)

North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality currently permits more than 2,300 industrial hog operations in North Carolina. These industrial facilities continue to use a primitive lagoon-and-sprayfield system, whereby hog feces and urine are stored in open air, unlined lagoons and the waste is then sprayed into the air and on nearby fields. This waste pollutes North Carolina rivers and streams, groundwater, and air, and exposes neighboring communities to noxious odors and serious health impacts. These facilities are disproportionately located near low-wealth communities of color.

All industrial hog operations in North Carolina must be covered under a general permit from the state in order to operate lawfully. These general permits are up for renewal every five years, and the existing general permit for hog operations expires in September 2019. North Carolina is currently accepting public comments until Monday, March 4 on a draft renewed general permit that would cover industrial hog operations in the state.

“The state proposed some positive changes in its draft permit, but the draft doesn’t go nearly far enough to protect rivers, our air, or communities from the pollution caused by these industrial facilities,” said Blakely Hildebrand, an attorney in SELC’s Chapel Hill office.

North Carolina residents can contact state officials, urging them to maintain the proposed positive changes in the final permit and add more protections to the permit for air, rivers, and streams, and nearby communities. The opportunity for North Carolinians to tell the state to clean up industrial hog facilities only comes once every few years. Make your voice heard!

To take action, email SwinePermit.Comments@ncdenr.gov by March 4 and tell the state to:

  • Increase accountability for the hog industry by expanding the requirements for groundwater monitoring and the use of a tool that measures the risk of nutrient pollution;
  • Ensure equity by implementing a tool that identifies the communities suffering the most from the impacts from industrial hog operations and mitigating these impacts;
  • Promote transparency by requiring the powerful hog industry to turn over records that tell the public where, when, and how much hog waste is generated at industrial facilities; and
  • Require new, cost-effective technology that ensures industry compliance with the renewed permit.

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