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Each year, 2,000 large-scale hog operations in North Carolina house roughly 10 million hogs, making the coastal state one of the worlds top pork producers. It also makes North Carolina one of the biggest producers of hog feces. According to the Environmental Working Group, North Carolina wet animal waste (primarily consisting of hog feces) tallies in at over 10 billion gallons.
How does one go about managing 10 billion gallons of feces?
One of the primary ways in which hog feces has been managed in North Carolina is through anaerobic lagoons. These lagoons are created from a manure slurry, which is washed out from underneath the animal pens and then piped into the lagoon. These lagoons are often constructed near primary sources of water, and operate without enclosure, meaning that gases like ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and methane are emitted into the surrounding air space.
More than that, when coastal disasters strike North Carolina, and those primary sources of water flood, these lagoons are breached. Gallons of feces then enter these water sources, introducing harmful substances to unsuspecting animals and people, including: antibiotics, estrogens, bacteria, pesticides, heavy metals, and protozoa.
This is detrimental, to the environment, and to the food webs relying upon these water sources.
While in 1999, following the devastation of Hurricane Floyd, the state of North Carolina banned the construction of new anaerobic lagoons in 1999. However, this didnt include the anaerobic lagoons that were already operative. In effect, decades later, anaerobic lagoons remain the way some large-scale North Carolinian hog farms continue to manage their waste.
This is unacceptable. For our health, for the health of animals, and for the health of the environment, farmers everywhere must manage their livestock waste carefully, and with more in mind than cost. Tell the Environmental Protection Agency that you deserve better, that our farms are supposed to give us life, not take it from us. Sign the petition below and urge the EPA to ban anaerobic lagoons entirely.
To the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,
In 1999, by banning the construction of new aerobic lagoons, the state of North Carolina took a big step forward in reducing the amount of livestock feces contaminating local water sources. However, it wasnt a large enough step.
Still, because the ban only halted the construction of new lagoons and not the lagoons already in operation, anaerobic lagoons continue to be a choice for large-scale farmers throughout the state. Natural disasters continue to result in the contents of these lagoons contaminating key sources of water throughout the state. Devastating substances from these farms and their livestock antibiotics, estrogens, bacteria, pesticides, heavy metals, and protozoa are being consumed by unsuspecting animals and people.
Even when not facing disaster, these open-topped lagoons have proven to be harmful, emitting toxic gases into the air, including ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane, and carbon dioxide. Not only does this affect the quality of life for those within sniffing distance, but, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, it actually has a physical affect on the people living near these lagoons. Reported thus far are the following symptoms: headaches, shortness of breath, wheezing, excessive coughing, and diarrhea.
Administrator, our farms and water sources arent supposed to operate this way theyre meant to give us life, not slowly take it away from us. Its unacceptable for farms to continue managing waste in this manner and I urge the Environmental Protection Agency to ban anaerobic lagoons entirely.