Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hurricane Florence could make North Carolina pig-manure pools a health hazard, as previous hurricanes have

Hogs on a flooded farm crowd on top of a barn in N.C. after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. (Reuters photo)
Neighbors already complain about the stink of hog farms in North Carolina, but when Hurricane Florence hits the state tomorrow or Friday, thousands of open pig-manure pools could become a public-health hazard. North Carolina is a top hog-farming state, with about 9 million pigs on 2,300 farms producing about 10 billion pounds of wet animal waste a year, Zoe Schlanger reports for Quartz.

Previous hurricanes give has reason for concern: "2016’s Hurricane Matthew inundated 14 hog-manure lagoons. In the days leading up to the hurricane’s landfall, some farmers pumped waste out of their lagoons and hauled it away in an effort to limit the damage," Schlanger reports. "Hurricane Floyd in 1999 did much worse, flooding dozens of hog lagoons and causing six lagoons’ containment walls to fail. The waste that escaped eventually wound up in estuaries, and was blamed for algae blooms and fish kills." Floodwaters that include hog feces "make for a toxic soup, and raise fears about the potential for bacteria from the pig feces to contaminate North Carolina’s groundwater."

Andy Curliss, the CEO of the North Carolina Pork Council, told Bloomberg that manure lagoons can take 25 inches of rain without failing. Florence is expected to bring up to 40 inches of rain to some parts of North Carolina, Schlanger reports.

No comments: