North Carolinians live with the highest density of hogs of any state in the nation, but state regulation of the 9.5 billion gallons of waste those hogs generate each year is lax.
Almost all that waste is governed by a general permit that allows it to be kept in unlined open cesspools, often the size of football fields, then sprayed on nearby cropland. When the sprayers are on, neighbors often must shut their windows on even the hottest days, or risk droplets of manure and urine blowing into their homes.
The system of cesspools and sprayers is a cheap way for hog producers to manage waste, but it costs North Carolina an uncounted fortune: Toxic emissions from industrial hog operations foul our air, contaminants from hog feces and urine pollute our waters, and neighbors of industrial operations live shorter lives. Learn more here.
The waste management permit is up for renewal. This is your chance to ask for better standards.
The big picture of what we're asking for:
Smithfield Foods, the multinational company that makes hundreds of millions off this industry, and other corporations that contract with North Carolina operations for swine production, should have responsibility for managing the waste produced by the animals they own.
The NC Department of Environmental Quality needs to either collect or require the collection of data required to assess hog waste pollution on a large-scale basis.
Mandatory groundwater monitoring when there’s evidence of off-site impacts
Required use by swine operators of a formula, which was created at great taxpayer expense, to evaluate the risk of phosphorus pollution when animal waste is applied to cropland.
Monthly electronic submission of reports on records of land application of waste, cropping, stocking, and soil or lagoon sampling.
What we’re asking you to do:
Submit a comment here: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/raise-a-stink-about-north-carolinas-hog-waste-crisis
Contact Christine Lawson by e-mail (Christine.Lawson@ncdenr.gov; Attn: Swine General Permit) or by mail (Christine Lawson, DWR Animal Operations, Attn: Swine General Permit, 1636 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1636)
Suggestions for comments:
North Carolina needs stronger pollution controls in the general permit for swine waste management. I am particularly concerned about threats to wells used for drinking water. We need mandatory groundwater monitoring when there’s evidence pollutants from industrial animal operations have seeped into groundwater.
I’m writing to request stronger pollution controls in the general permit for swine waste management. I am particularly concerned about nutrient pollution. The permit should require swine operators to use the state’s phosphorus loss assessment tool, and limit phosphorus application where necessary.
I’m writing to request more transparency in the general permit for swine waste management. The public should have access, and DEQ should review more than once a year, records showing permit compliance. The permit should require monthly electronic submission of reports on the contents of cesspools; the volume and location of spraying, the crops sprayed, and the results of soil monitoring of the fields.