The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Will Hurricane Florence Flood North Carolina Factory Farms and Manure Pits?
When Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina in 2016, it flooded more than 140 feces-strewn industrial-scale swine and poultry barns, more than a dozen open pits brimming with liquid hog waste and thousands of acres of manure-saturated fields. As Hurricane Florence—far bigger than Matthew—bears down on the state, Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Waterkeeper Alliance are prepared to again assess the impact on North Carolina's concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs.
Florence is poised to be the strongest hurricane to hit the Carolinas in 30 years. Its torrential rains are likely to drench the swine and poultry barns and manure pits that are scattered statewide, but heavily concentrated in the lowlands of southeastern North Carolina.
When floodwaters reach CAFO barns, manure pits or fields where liquid waste is sprayed as fertilizer, nearby lakes, rivers and streams may become contaminated with a devil's brew of pollutants that can be extremely hazardous to human health and the environment. The contaminated water may contain deadly pathogens, such as E. coli or salmonella, which could make drinking water and recreational waters dangerous.
North Carolina's hog and other CAFOs produce almost 10 billion gallons of fecal waste a year—enough to fill more than 15,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. Within the 100-year floodplain of 47 coastal counties, 62 CAFOs house more than 235,000 hogs and 30 other operations house more than 1.8 million chickens. There are 166 open-air waste pits directly within the 100-year floodplain, and another 366 within 100 feet of the floodplain.
In November 2016, EWG and Waterkeeper used aerial photos, satellite imagery and geospatial mapping to provide the first publicly available, detailed analysis of Hurricane Matthew's impact on CAFOs along the Neuse, Black and Cape Fear rivers. The organizations will conduct a similar assessment in the days after Florence passes.
"Obviously, our first concern is for people directly threatened by the storm," said Soren Rundquist, EWG's director of spatial analysis. "But by mapping the impact on CAFOs, we want to drive home the recklessness of placing densely concentrated industrial-scale livestock operations in a low-lying area regularly deluged by tropical storms."
- How Meteorologists Predict the Next Big Hurricane ›
- Hurricane Florence: Four Things You Should Know That Your ... ›
- As 1.5 Million Flee Hurricane Florence, Worries Grow Over Half ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A unique subpopulation of ancient walrus in Iceland was likely hunted to extinction by Vikings shortly after arrival to the region, according to new research.
By Tara Smith
Fires in the Brazilian Amazon have jumped 84 percent during President Jair Bolsonaro's first year in office and in July 2019 alone, an area of rainforest the size of Manhattan was lost every day. The Amazon fires may seem beyond human control, but they're not beyond human culpability.
By Natalie Hanman
Why are you publishing this book now?
I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face. A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans. These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.
As the climate crisis takes on more urgency, psychologists around the world are seeing an increase in the number of children sitting in their offices suffering from 'eco-anxiety,' which the American Psychological Association described as a "chronic fear of environmental doom," as EcoWatch reported.
By Ben Jervey
Drivers of electric cars are being unfairly punished by punitive fees in several states, according to a newly published analysis by Consumer Reports. Legislators in 26 states have enacted or proposed special registration fees for electric vehicles (EVs) that the consumer advocacy group found to be more expensive than the gas taxes paid by the driver of an average new gasoline vehicle.