Hog Waste Overflows in North and South Carolina

So, I’m sure we all heard about the effects of Hurricane Florence, but the effects of the hog waste overflows on the local communities have been devastating. To preface, the main perpetrator was Smithfield Foods, where millions of gallons of hog waste escaped from two of their lagoons. These lagoons can hold billions of gallons of waste and urine, and they are large open, lined pits in the ground near the farms. Companies were instructed to drain their waste pits to account for the increased water flows from the hurricane, but they either didn’t, didn’t drain them enough, or did but sprayed the waste on nearby grasslands because it was a cheap way of disposing it and couldn’t be traced back to their specific company.

 

This is frustrating enough as is, but the waste had contaminated all of the water in the communities and travelled along the watersheds (including rivers, streams, and ponds). The waste also entered the streets, making its way into people’s homes. According to this article: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/could-smithfield-foods-have-prevented-the-rivers-of-hog-waste-in-north-carolina-after-florence, “more than a hundred and thirty of the state’s roughly four thousand hog-waste lagoons were compromised, or close to being compromised, by the historic floodwaters.” Some people have died because of infections from their wounds, and many more are at risk of serious illness because of the waste contamination.

 

Clean-up efforts are going to be very difficult, and many minorities are at risk. Not only are they disproportionately located near these farms, but they also rely on well-water, which, if it wasn’t contaminated before, most definitely is now. The animal agriculture industry already gets many passes from the government and are not held to a very tight standard in terms of waste management and pollution.

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