Environmental Defense calls on Gov. Easley, NC lawmakers to reduce hog waste pollution

June 22, 2005

(20 June 2005 - Raleigh, NC)  Environmental Defense today called on NC Governor Mike Easley and state lawmakers to support legislation that will mandate conversion of open-air hog waste lagoons to technologies that do a better job of controlling air and water pollution generated by the pork industry.  June 21 marks the 10th anniversary of a disastrous lagoon overflow at Ocean View Farms in Onslow County.  The spill dumped more that 20 million gallons of hog waste into the New River, causing massive fish kills and contaminating drinking water.

“Over the past decade, outdated hog waste lagoons have continued to pollute the water we drink and the air we breathe, yet elected officials have failed to take meaningful action to protect the health of citizens and the environment,” said Dan Whittle, Environmental Defense senior attorney.  “The pork industry is important to the economy of Eastern North Carolina, but clean water and clean air are important, too.  Gov. Easley and lawmakers should muster the political will necessary to ensure a healthy future for hog farmers as well as their neighbors living downwind and downstream.” 

Introduced in the General Assembly this session, the Clean Hog Farms Act of 2005 would permanently ban open-air lagoons and set a deadline for converting farms with more than 250 hogs to cleaner waste systems.  It would also direct the state’s leading research institutions to develop a plan that will address conversion costs.

“The best thing Governor Easley and lawmakers can do is to support the Clean Hog Farms Act,” said Whittle.  “This bill can prevent the disaster that took place 10 years ago and eliminate the chronic public health problems associated with outdated open-air waste lagoons.”

“Research shows that cleaner technologies are available, and there are a number of ways to make them affordable for hog farmers.  It’s clearly time to start planning for conversion,” said Joe Rudek, Environmental Defense senior scientist.  “State leaders, hog farmers and conservation groups must work together now to solve this decade-old problem.  Political will and an economic plan are the only things that stand in our way.”