Groups Say North Carolina Can Be National Model For Phase Out Of Hog Lagoons

July 25, 2005

(July 25, 2005 - Raleigh, NC) Environmental Defense and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) today called on state leaders to begin designing a multifaceted plan that will help the state’s hog farmers convert polluting hog lagoons to waste management technologies that protect air and water quality and public health.  N.C. State University (NCSU) has announced that three more waste systems under review meet stringent environmental performance standards set forth in the so-called Smithfield Agreement, bringing to five the number of cleaner systems identified.  NCSU is releasing its findings in conjunction with today’s five-year anniversary of the agreement, forged by the NC attorney general’s office with Smithfield Foods.  Premium Standard Farms signed a similar agreement.  The agreements provided funding to NCSU to test cleaner technologies and obligated the companies to phase out lagoons on company-owned farms once technologies are identified that meet environmental and economic criteria. 

“Five years ago we thought lagoons would be gone for good by this time.  Although the process is running behind, we now know for sure that there are cleaner technologies for hog waste treatment,” said Joe Rudek, senior scientist with the North Carolina office of Environmental Defense.  “Now it’s time to design a plan that will ensure that hog farmers can afford to switch to cleaner technologies and properly close out polluting lagoons.  Passage of the Clean Hog Farms Act by the General Assembly would be a major step in the right direction.”
“Fixing the hog waste pollution problem has really always been an economic and political issue at its base.  Now that a substantial body of work has shown several better technologies, it’s past time to address the political and economic issues,” said Michelle Nowlin, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center.  “We call upon Attorney General Cooper and Governor Easley, who authored this plan, as well as other elected leaders, to provide bold leadership.  And we call upon the pork industry to rededicate themselves to showing the nation how to solve this problem.”
“Despite the moratorium on new open-air lagoons and improved regulations, residents downwind and downstream of hog farms continue to suffer from odor and air pollution, contaminated groundwater and polluted streams.  With confirmation that better technologies are available, Environmental Defense and SELC urge lawmakers to support cleaner waste technologies and move the state’s hog industry to a total phase out of hog lagoons,” said Nowlin.
Environmental Defense, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 400,000 members.  Since 1967, Environmental Defense has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems.
Founded in 1986, SELC is the only non-profit regional organization dedicated to protecting the native forests, wetlands, air and water quality, wildlife habitat and rural landscapes in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.  SELC works in partnership with more than 100 diverse groups on legal advocacy, policy reform and public education to achieve lasting environmental protections.