BREAKING: Millions Of Livestock Found Dead & Feces Leaking To River, EPA Rushing (DETAILS)

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2009

North Carolina is home to numerous poultry and pork farms, and many of those were destroyed during massive storm. Five million turkeys and chickens have been found dead. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality hasn’t released the number of hog deaths, but they could also be in the millions.

In addition to the economic impact of this, there is also an environmental impact that is largely going unreported.  North Carolina’s livestock industry produces about 10 billion gallons of fecal waste each year. A lot of this waste is stored in open cesspools called ‘lagoons.’

30281573595_e8fd7bc62d_z-1-300x200 BREAKING: Millions Of Livestock Found Dead & Feces Leaking To River, EPA Rushing (DETAILS) Environment Top Stories
A flooded lagoon in North Carolina
Credit: Rick Dove/WaterKeeper Alliance

Such waste is obviously full of pathogens that can easily contaminate drinking water. Even in the best of times, these hog farms can have a negative impact on the health of those who live nearby, most of whom are African-Americans.

‘Water and air pollution from the confinement of thousands of swine endanger the health of people living nearby. Industrial hog operations pollute the air with a complex mixture of particulates (e.g., fecal matter and endotoxins), vapors and gases (e.g., ammonia and hydrogen sulfide)—all of which have negative health effects. Add odor from feces, not only a nuisance but also the cause of health problems, and you get sick people. Wing and colleagues have recorded stress, anxiety, mucous membrane irritation, respiratory conditions, reduced lung function and acute blood pressure elevation.’

Due to the floods caused by Hurricane Matthew, many of those lagoons have became submerged, meaning that, when the waters recede, the fecal matter could very well end up in rivers and bodies of water that are used for drinking. Aside from the bacteria, the main contaminant found in such fecal matter is nitrate which can lead to a range of health issues.  Residents of California’s farming communities are facing similar Nitrate issues and experts believe the effects could persist for decades.

It will take time to assess the full environmental impact of Hurricane Matthew, but things do not look good. Hopefully, this event will pressure North Carolina’s legislature to strength regulations regarding the disposal of such waste.

Featured image via Getty Images.