Posted on

Why North Carolina Can’t Solve Its Hog Poop Problem (HBO)

PINK HILL, N.C. __ Leaning out over a bridge railing, Aaron Harris carefully lowers a basket of empty plastic bottles into the slow-moving Goshen Swamp, where they fill with water the color of weak coffee before he reels them back up.

Harris, an environmental specialist with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, samples the water to understand just how polluted the water is after storms sweep debris and pollution into North Carolina’s low-lying watersheds. But residents worry about one potential source of contamination and it’s also the industry that keeps this region alive: Hog farming.

When storms season hits North Carolina, hog farms are some of the most vulnerable places in the state because most hog farmers here dispose of their hog waste in massive open-pit lagoons.

And North Carolina has already endured its wettest year on record. The saturated ground can’t absorb much more rain, which increases the flooding risk. So the storm that approached the region on Thursday only made things worse.

Torrential rains can send hog waste over the top of the lagoon, where it washes into rivers and streams. Sometimes, the lagoons themselves breach, and hog waste spills into the groundwater. During Florence, both happened, with at least 50 flooded lagoons and two breaches.

Catastrophic flooding aside, neighbors say hog farms also present a regular nuisance to their quality of life. That’s in part because of the lagoons, but mostly because of how hog farms traditionally dispose of their waste: Letting the solids settle to the bottom and spraying the floating liquid effluvia onto their fields.

That’s hog feces, hog urine and hog blood, sprayed in clouds sometimes just a few yards from someone’s house. For Elsie Herring, the stink is constant.

“We don’t come outside much, you know. And we don’t open the windows because the odor — you can’t keep the odor out, whether you open the windows or not, you just can’t,” said Herring, perched in a rocking chair on her pink house’s front porch as another spray cloud blew onto her property. “You can smell it now, can’t you.”

Herring is one of 500 plaintiffs suing Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer. The plaintiffs claim Smithfield’s waste-management practice of storing hog shit in lagoons and then spraying it onto fields severely reduces their quality of life.

Nearly every hog farmer in North Carolina is a contract farmer, meaning the agribusiness corporations own the pigs and the farmers own the waste. Morris Murphy has 15,000 head of Smithfield hog on his land in Duplin County, and says the nuisance lawsuits are baseless.

While hog farms do smell, Murphy says, it’s not bad enough to affect his neighbors. His lagoons are open pits, and on a sunny morning in mid-October, didn’t present much of a smell, even just a few feet away.

He’s not being sued, but his friends are. He says at least one fellow hog farmer had his hogs taken back by Smithfield after a lawsuit.

Hog farmers say they can’t afford to operate without open-pit lagoons, and agribusiness conglomerates haven’t shown much willingness to pay to cover the lagoons — an expensive proposition that includes a whole separate system to deal with the biogasses produced by the covered hog poop.

“Personally I think the system’s fine,” Morris said. “Someone needs to come here and prove to me that what I’m doing is bad for the environment before I feel like I need to change it.”

Subscribe to VICE News here: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE-News

Check out VICE News for more: http://vicenews.com

Follow VICE News here:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vicenews
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vicenews
Tumblr: http://vicenews.tumblr.com/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/vicenews
More videos from the VICE network: https://www.fb.com/vicevideo

Posted on

AP Top Stories September 25 P

(25 Sep 2018) Here’s the latest for Tuesday, Sept. 25: Bill Cosby gets prison sentence; Sen. Murkowski believes FBI investigation needed of Kavanagh after new allegations; Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence still rising in S.C.; Seville holds 20th flamenco biennial.

Subscribe for more Breaking News: http://smarturl.it/AssociatedPress
Website: https://apnews.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP
Facebook: https://facebook.com/APNews
Google+: https://plus.google.com/115892241801867723374
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/APNews/

Posted on

SC braces for what could be record flooding

(25 Sep 2018) Georgetown, S.C. resident Lee Gantt owns a home built in 1737 which she says hasn’t flooded from the Sampit River since it was built. Tuesday, as she watches the river rise from Florence’s rains, Gantt is wondering if the luck finally runs out. (Sept. 25)

Subscribe for more Breaking News: http://smarturl.it/AssociatedPress
Website: https://apnews.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP
Facebook: https://facebook.com/APNews
Google+: https://plus.google.com/115892241801867723374
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/APNews/

You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/62e980685605147851ddbda282b99628

Posted on

NC river swirls with gray muck near coal ash dump

(23 Sep 2018) Gray muck is flowing into the Cape Fear River from the site of a dam breach at a Wilmington power plant where an old coal ash dump had been covered over by Florence’s floodwaters. (Sept. 23)

Subscribe for more Breaking News: http://smarturl.it/AssociatedPress
Website: https://apnews.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP
Facebook: https://facebook.com/APNews
Google+: https://plus.google.com/115892241801867723374
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/APNews/

You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/a57573b504404dda51013c076876633c

Posted on

Suspected power plant waste in N Carolina river

(21 Sep 2018) Florence’s floodwaters breached a dam holding back a large reservoir at a North Carolina, power plant Friday, and coal ash from an adjacent dump could be flowing into a nearby river. An environmental group rescued a turtle from the muck. (Sept. 21)

Subscribe for more Breaking News: http://smarturl.it/AssociatedPress
Website: https://apnews.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP
Facebook: https://facebook.com/APNews
Google+: https://plus.google.com/115892241801867723374
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/APNews/

You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/b3726959bfcc94d186283d9394c8af02

Posted on

Coping with flooding brings NC neighbors together

(21 Sep 2018) Greg Lovell has called his Hampstead, North Carolina, neighborhood home for 15 years, but only while battling floodwaters after Hurricane Florence has he met other members of his community facing the same struggles. (Sept. 21)

Subscribe for more Breaking News: http://smarturl.it/AssociatedPress
Website: https://apnews.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP
Facebook: https://facebook.com/APNews
Google+: https://plus.google.com/115892241801867723374
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/APNews/

You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/9c24c4401cccbd1c9cc85b1d656d9143

Posted on

Dam breach at Duke NC plant; coal ash could spill

(21 Sep 2018) Duke Energy said Friday that a dam containing a large lake at a Wilmington power plant has been breached by floodwaters from Florence, and its possible coal ash from an adjacent dump is flowing into the Cape Fear River. (Sept. 21)

Subscribe for more Breaking News: http://smarturl.it/AssociatedPress
Website: https://apnews.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP
Facebook: https://facebook.com/APNews
Google+: https://plus.google.com/115892241801867723374
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/APNews/

You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/1ff4d6a5297aa23136b9be2a61777336

Posted on

Florence batters, bruises tobacco crops in NC

(21 Sep 2018) Tobacco crops battered and bruised by Hurricane Florence stand unharvested in fields near Fremont, North Carolina. (Sept. 21)

Subscribe for more Breaking News: http://smarturl.it/AssociatedPress
Website: https://apnews.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP
Facebook: https://facebook.com/APNews
Google+: https://plus.google.com/115892241801867723374
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/APNews/

You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/3ba94cc673a9d8b6e2da7ddd530bbe4e

Posted on

NC Governor: Florence damage adds up to billions

(21 Sep 2018) North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he knows the damage in his state will add up to billions of dollars, but said with the effects on the storm ongoing, there was no way to make a more accurate estimate. (Sept. 21)

Subscribe for more Breaking News: http://smarturl.it/AssociatedPress
Website: https://apnews.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP
Facebook: https://facebook.com/APNews
Google+: https://plus.google.com/115892241801867723374
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/APNews/

You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/15eacee3ab6fa4e561e17b196c592d14

Posted on

Pollocksville still underwater, Wilmington now dry

(20 Sep 2018) The water has begun to recede in Pollocksville, North Carolina a week after hurricane Florence landed, but portions of the town near the Trent River are still underwater as seen by drone footage. (Sept. 20)

Subscribe for more Breaking News: http://smarturl.it/AssociatedPress
Website: https://apnews.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP
Facebook: https://facebook.com/APNews
Google+: https://plus.google.com/115892241801867723374
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/APNews/

You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/1310738307624d2465099cd5ad6e2094