Statement Regarding New NC Permit Covering 2,300 Industrial Hog Operations of Nearly 10M Hogs

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--The Southern Environmental Law Center today released the following statement by Blakely Hildebrand, attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, regarding the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s issuance of a general permit to cover approximately 2,300 industrial hog operations that raise nearly 10 million hogs in eastern North Carolina.  Most operations store hog feces and urine in primitive, unlined pits before spraying the untreated waste on nearby fields--called a lagoon and sprayfield system--exposing communities in eastern North Carolina to health and environmental risks. North Carolina ranks second nationally in hog production.

“DEQ has taken a step in the right direction by making technical improvements to increase accountability and transparency for the hog industry in the permitting process,” said Blakely Hildebrand, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.  “But the general permit fails to adequately protect our air, waterways, and communities from the pollution from the hog industry because the permit endorses the continued use of the primitive lagoon and sprayfield system.  DEQ has failed to put in place measures that will protect communities of color who bear the disproportionate environmental and health burdens of this dirty industry.  Moreover, the general permit does little to mitigate the risk of spills from industrial animal operations during major rain events, which are becoming increasingly intense and frequent.”

The general permit released by DEQ today requires the hog industry to test groundwater for contamination for facilities in the 100-year floodplain; to measure the risk of nutrient pollution from facilities; and to turn over records that tell the public where, when, and how much hog waste is generated on-site.  The general permit fails to incorporate use of an environmental justice tool, which would identify the communities suffering the most from the cumulative impacts from industrial animal operations. 

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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 over 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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