Florence churns up a shit show
| Hurricane threatens hog farms, sewage plants, and people down stream
| McClatchy, Sept 13, 2018 – Hurricane Florence threatens to kill thousands of farm animals and trigger catastrophic spills of waste as it bears down on a Carolina coastal region dotted with sewage treatment plants, hog waste lagoons, poultry farms and coal ash ponds.
Soil in much of the Carolinas is already saturated by months of rainfall, adding to the risk of flooding and the collapse of earthen lagoons containing hog manure, coal ash or other waste.
Industry and municipal officials say they are taking steps to minimize the chance of spills. Some accuse environmentalists of exaggerating the threat.
“The preparations for a hurricane began long before the past few hours or days,” said Brandon Warren, president of the North Carolina Pork Council, in a statement. “Our farmers take hurricane threats extremely seriously.”
Hurricane Florence is so large it is certain to cause pollution releases in the Carolinas and Virginia, especially in urban areas that have combined sewer and storm-water systems.
In 2016 and 2017, there were 136 sewage spills in an eight-county of eastern North Carolina, 36 of which were caused by severe weather, including 11 caused by Hurricane Matthew.
North Carolina is also one of the nation’s top livestock producers, ranking third in poultry production and second in hog production, with more than 2,000 permitted swine farms and 9.3 million pigs [which is nearly as large as the state’s 10.3 million human population].
Sampson and Duplin counties are the two biggest producers and, as of Tuesday afternoon, both were within the projected path of Florence.
Most hog farms manage their waste by depositing it in earthen pits, known as lagoons, and spraying it on nearby fields. During big storms, uncovered lagoons — especially those that haven’t been drawn down — can fill up with rain and overflow … Read more.