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Fayetteville Observer on another water pollution crisis

Hog industryCoal ash isn’t the only pollutant wreaking havoc in North Carolina’s waterways these days; the enormous problems posed by industrial hog production are back in the news. As noted in this space last week, there’s a stomach-turning crisis underway as you read this in involving a porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus outbreak in North Carolina.

This morning’s Fayetteville Observer weighs in on the subject with an editorial bearing the marvelously understated headline “Our view: Dead pigs, water may be an unhealthy mix.” As the editorial notes (after describing in grim detail what’s been going on) the recent coal ash disaster caused by lax regulation offers little hope that regulators are taking all necessary steps:

“Pig carcasses are generally buried in pits on the farms. In normal times, this may not put much contamination into the groundwater, although the leader of the nonprofit Clean Water for North Carolina says voluntary water monitoring around hog farms showed elevated nitrogen and bacterial contamination long before PED arrived. Two other nonprofits – the Waterkeeper Alliance and North Carolina Riverkeepers – say burying millions of carcasses could be loading bacteria and other pathogens into the groundwater, and ultimately into the drinking water in many communities.

The groups want Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler to release more information about the effects of the epidemic, but it’s not clear if there’s information to release. And Gov. Pat McCrory’s office is leaving it to Troxler, with a spokesman saying, “We’re confident he’ll request additional support from the Governor’s Office if needed.”

In a state where a hands-off regulatory environment just resulted in a massive coal-ash spill in Eden, we’d expect a more vigilant response than that. But as we saw with Duke Energy’s coal-ash ponds, the state is more eager to protect industry than to safeguard public health and safety.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

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