I think this is an amazing first step!
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: N&O article on hog farm regs (fwd)
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 11:48:35 -0400 (EDT)
From: Environmental Resource Program <email@example.com>
Here's the N&O article on hog farm regs.
Environmental Resource Program, UNC-CH
News & Observer
Thursday, October 14, 1999
Hog farms get tough rules
By ANNE SAKER, Staff Writer
The state issued stringent rules Wednesday for a post-flood hog
industry in Eastern North Carolina, instructing producers how to cope
now with overflowing waste lagoons and
warning that badly damaged farms in the 100-year flood plain will not
be allowed to rebuild.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources also told
farmers that if their waste lagoons
cannot handle any more material, they cannot restock their hog barns.
They also are not permitted
to send any waste into rivers.
Nearly a month after Hurricane Floyd caused the worst flooding in
recent state history, the department
released its plan to handle the crisis and to help the state's
recover from the disaster.
Last month's flood consumed about 40 hog farms Down East, breaching
lagoons and sending thousands of
gallons of waste into rivers and streams. Another 400 operations are
dealing with lagoons still swollen to
dangerous levels. About 28,000 hogs were killed.
Department spokesman Don Reuter said the rules will be formally
presented today to the Environmental
Management Commission, the department's politically appointed
policy-making body, whichcould change the
This month, hog producers asked through their Washington lobbyists
that they be granted exemptions
from environmental regulations so that they can get back on their feet.
But Gov. James Hunt has voiced his support for more careful
regulation of hog farms in Eastern North Carolina.
And with onetime environmental lobbyist Bill Holman now at the helm of
DENR, the state is using the Floyd
flood as the opportunity for a firmer approach.
To address the more immediate problems facing hog farms in the 30
counties most gravely affected by the
flood, the department first said all farms that can comply with their
existing permits and waste management plans
must do so.
If a farm cannot comply, it must submit an emergency plan to the
department by the end of
this month. Among other things, the producer must promise to:
Remove as much of the waste from the lagoon "as economically
practicable" to a facility that can handle it.
Restock animals only at the level that the lagoon can handle. "In
extreme cases," the department said, "this may require complete
depopulation of the
Prevent any discharge of waste into surface waters.
Limit the amount of waste sprayed on lands still saturated with
Submit by Jan. 31 a report to the department on how the producer
operated operated during the
October emergency plan.
In addition, the department said that as the flood crisis passes,
producers should talk with department
representatives about the conditions of their waste lagoons. The
department also will decide whether a farm
is ready to restock.
Most significant, the department relied upon federal Environmental
Protection Agency regulation to tell
producers that if their facilities are more than 50 percent damaged,
they will not be permitted to rebuild in the
100-year flood plain.
About 200 hog farms are in the 100-year flood plain, although
Reuter said the department has not determined
how many of those ultimately could be out of business. But even if a
farm is repairable, the state would require
an alternative to lagoons for waste management, Reuter said.
The N.C. Pork Council, which represents many of the tate's 2,500
hog producers, kept its counsel on the new
Spokeswoman Beth Anne Mumford said that she had not yet read them
but that her group has been working
with the department to assess the damage.
"We have been working with DENR and the Division of Water Quality
to do everything we can to ensure the
integrity of our water systems and minimize any potential impact from
the hurricane," she said.
"We're going to look at this document and go through the provisions.
We're certainly going to continue to
work with DENR on this and with the producers."
The Southern Environmental Law Center has been pushing the state
for years to get tougher with the hog
industry. Wednesday, center lawyer Michelle Nowlin said the new
regulations were a step in the right
"What the department outlines here is a very reasonable approach,"
Nowlin said. "It requires
producers to notify the department before they restock. What the pork
industry had initially requested was
something saying that they wanted these facilities to restock
regardless of the status of the lagoons.
"While you can certainly understand the motivation, it seems to me
to be horribly short-sighted," she said.
Anne Saker can be reached at 829-8955 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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