Carolina’s hog poop nightmare
The Washington Post
As flooding in North Carolina recedes, it is leaving a “disgusting” legacy in its wake, said Rick Dove. Hurricane Florence inundated many of the 3,000 open-air “lagoons” of untreated hog waste throughout the state, contaminating waterways and groundwater with “pathogens, viruses, and bacteria.” The amount of waste produced by these industrial-scale hog farms is astonishing: Duplin County alone produces as much feces and urine as the entire New York City metro area, all of it sitting in the open, “waiting for a catastrophe like Hurricane Florence to wreak havoc.” My nonprofit, Waterkeeper Alliance, surveyed the damage from planes, and it was horrifying. Some cesspools were submerged in floodwaters, others had “suffered massive structural damage to their walls.” Raw waste filled with nitrogen, ammonia, and various pathogens—including antibiotic-resistant E. coli—had already flowed downstream. In coming weeks and months, North Carolinians will see hog waste cause “beach closures, fish kills, and contamination of shellfish beds.” Rivers and groundwater will be tainted. But because the pork industry carries great political weight in North Carolina, nothing will change. When the next hurricane comes, a tide of hog waste will wash over the state again.