North Carolina residents and local environmental groups are worried the coming hurricane season will once again unleash massive pollution from the state’s thousands of hog waste lagoons, Environmental Health News reports. In addition to releasing foul odors and ultra-heat-trapping methane gas, the massive open ponds of pig feces are vulnerable to flooding by hurricanes and heavy rains, releasing harmful bacteria and other pollution from untreated animal excrement directly into local waterways. NOAA predicts a higher than average hurricane season for North Carolina in 2021, bringing back memories of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence which damaged or flooded at least 110 hog lagoons two years later.
A 2016 Environmental Working Group analysis found 306 of the state’s roughly 4,000 hog farms were located within a 100-year flood plain or within half a mile of a public well with the majority concentrated in and around predominantly Black and low-income communities. And even if there isn’t flooding, in advance of a storm the hog manure is sprayed onto fields to lower the likelihood the lagoon will flood, merely putting the E. Coli and salmonella-laden manure mixture into a place where it is just as likely to runoff into waterways once the storm hits, leaving surrounding communities polluted- just as a precaution. (Environmental Health News; Climate signals background: Hurricanes, extreme precipitation)