Smithfield Plans Do Not Solve Pollution Problems from its Massive Hog Waste Lagoons

Chapel Hill, N.C. --In response to Smithfield’s plans announced late yesterday to produce biogas at 90 percent of its North Carolina industrial hog operations, the Southern Environmental Law Center issued the following statement by attorney Blakely Hildebrand.

“Smithfield’s plan fails to protect its neighbors from all the pollution problems associated with its hog lagoons--polluted water, noxious odors, and other nuisances inherent in industrial hog operations.  In fact, Smithfield’s plan may make some pollution problems even worse.

“The company could have invested in cleaner, more responsible technology that protects families, communities, and our air and waterways -- especially in the face of more intense storms.  Instead, Smithfield chose to further entrench the lagoon-and-sprayfield system, and its injustices.”  

Smithfield’s biogas proposal still relies on a primitive lagoon-and-sprayfield system that North Carolina juries recently found create a devastating nuisance for neighboring communities.  Under this proposal, Smithfield will continue to store hog feces and urine in primitive, unlined pits before spraying the untreated waste on nearby fields, exposing communities in eastern North Carolina to health and environmental risks.  During major rain events like Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, and Floyd, these lagoons spill hog feces into our waterways.  Cleaner technologies for managing this waste are available and affordable for this multi-billion-dollar company.  Smithfield’s industrial hog operations are disproportionally located in communities of color, making these biogas projects an environmental justice issue.

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For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With more than 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org 

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