Environment

After hurricane, 14 hog lagoons flooded, two partially breached

seven-springs hog lagoons

Hog waste lagoon near Seven Springs, in Wayne County. The town abuts the Neuse River. (Photo: Rick Dove, Waterkeeper Alliance)

Parts of the Neuse, Cape Fear and Lumber River watersheds have been contaminated with hog waste, but the extent of the pollution isn’t yet known.

Officials from the NC Department of Environmental Quality this week will begin sampling rivers and other bodies of water near swine farms, according to a statement released today.

DEQ investigators have determined that 14 lagoons flooded and one farm had two partial breaches.  Farms in Wayne, Lenoir, Craven, Greene, Robeson, Sampson, Duplin and Bladen were the hardest-hit.

The sampling is scheduled to continue for several weeks: upstream, downstream and at the sources of the discharges. DEQ spokeswoman Marla Sink told NCPW that the time frame varies for the sampling results to be released. In some cases, “it may be immediate.” In others, “they have to grow cultures before they can get results. We get the results depending on their workload.”

If levels fail to meet regulations due to mismanagement the state will notify farmers, who typically have 10 days to respond with measures they have taken to stop the discharge. In most natural disasters, the state doesn’t hold farmers liable for the water quality violations.

About 5,000 hogs and 2 million chickens died as the result of the flooding.

 

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