Florence Drowns Over 3 Million Animals Trapped in Factory Farms, 13 Manure “Lagoons” Overflowing

September 19, 2018 at 2:27 pm

The number of factory-farmed animals drowned in Hurricane Florence is already double the number in Hurricane Matthew and expected to go up. 13 manure lagoons are overflowing, with 55 more about to overflow into local rivers and groundwater.

So far Hurricane Florence has drowned 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 pigs trapped in factory farms, according to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.

The numbers are expected to mount this week as farmers return to their properties and are better able to assess their losses.

Thirteen pig manure lagoons are overflowing so far, and 55 more are at the brim and will overflow in the next 24 hours or so if water levels continue rising, according to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. The walls of four manure lagoons have suffered structural damage, allowing waste to flow out of the sides of the pits.

The agency has not inspected any of the state’s 3,300 waste lagoons itself, and is relying on self-reporting by farmers.

The N.C. Pork Council said some of the hogs drowned in flood waters, others perished from wind damaged barns.

Nearly 2 million of the dead chickens belonged to the third largest chicken producer in the country, Sanderson Farms, which produces 10 million chickens per week across the U.S.

In a press release, the company said 30 of its chicken suppliers are without power and unreachable. Each of the farms “houses” about 200,000 chickens, totaling more than 6 million birds that can’t be reached with chicken feed.

Upper Neuse Riverkeeper Matthew Starr warns that local drinking water supplies could be contaminated for months.

“Folks will want to get their wells tested,” he told ReturnToNow.net.

“Floodwaters contain raw animal waste, raw human waste, petrochemicals, and potentially coal-ash, so it’s just a really nasty mixture of pollutants.”

Duke researchers published a paper in the N.C. Medical Journal on Tuesday concluding that people who live near industrial hog farms have higher rates of infant mortality, kidney disease, tuberculosis, septicemia, and hospital admissions.

When these farms flood, the health risks are exacerbated, Duke University pathology and immunology professor H. Kim Lyerly told the Charlotte Observer.

“When you have a flood it’s a giant exposure to all the contents in the ground,” Lyerly said.

After Hurricane Matthew in 2016, one hog waste lagoon failed and 14 others were inundated. A 2017 assessment of Matthew’s effects on the state’s water quality found elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria in waterways four months after the hurricane.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday it is monitoring hog lagoons to assess impacts to downstream drinking water.

Last week, the Lower Neuse Riverkeeper Katy Langly told ReturnToNow.net there are 62 industrial hog farms in the state’s 100-year floodplain, which are contributing to a “dead zone” off the coast of North Carolina that could soon rival the dead zone off the Gulf Coast.

Her organization Sound Rivers advocates the state buying hog farmers out of their debt to Smithfield in exchange for promising to never use their land for industrial animal production again.

RELATED: Hurricane Will Likely Cover North Carolina in Hog Feces, As Manure “Lagoons” at Factory Farms Overflow